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SURVEY METHOD IN RESEARCH byThammanna H Nritlibrariantha@gmail.com
Introduction Survey represent one of the most common types of quantitative, social science research. In survey research, the researcher selects a sample of respondents from a population and administers a standardized questionnaire to them. The questionnaire, or survey, can be a written document that is completed by the person being surveyed, an online questionnaire, a face-to-face interview, or a telephone interview. Using surveys, it is possible to collect data from large or small populations (sometimes referred to as the universe of a study).
What is a Survey? • A survey is a way to collect information directly from people in a systematic, standardized way. Surveys use questionnaires that ask the same question in the same way to all respondents. Data collected this way can then be used to make inferences about the population of interest (e.g. farmers in your country, parents who attend a parenting workshop, etc). Information can be collected about people’s opinions, knowledge attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, plans and backgrounds. Surveys are used in needs assessments and opinion polls, as well as to evaluate the process, outcomes and impacts of programs and policies.
Characteristicsof survey method The survey method has certain specific characteristics • Sufficient demographic information - Even if you use a customer list or other targeted list for a customer satisfaction or other study, you may later want to analyze the results by smaller segments. Identify segments of interest at the beginning. Then, include a few relevant demographic questions, e.g., zip code or region, company size and industry, product or service used, or respondents' job titles. • Focused surveys - Avoid question creep. If you are asking questions about service and support, resist requests from colleagues to insert questions on other issues, such as branding, that waste questions or make the survey seem unfocused. • Clear questions - Make questions easy to understand by avoiding acronyms, technical words, complex sentences, and ambiguous language. Define terms, such as "cloud computing" or "the cloud," that can mean different things. Simplify sentences. Be concrete. • One-part questions - Subdivide two-part questions. If participants agree with one part of the question, but not the other, their answers will not be meaningful.
Other options - When none of the answers to multiple choice questions apply, respondents will select any response. If you provide options, such as "other," "neutral," or "none-of-the-above," followed by "please explain," responses will be more accurate. And, the comments will provide unexpected insights. • Logical sequencing of questions - When you have formulated the questions, check if the sequence of questions is logical. If you say go from Question 9 to Question 12, make sure to have a Question 12, and make sure that Question 12 logically follows Question 9. • Motivation - Use approaches, such as email, phone calls, or direct mail, to invite the target group to participate in the study. Make sure that participants are sympathetic with the purpose of the survey or are interested in the subjects covered in the survey. Provide an incentive or share some of the results. • Openness - Use results as you promised. If you say you will report aggregate data, do not reveal participants' names or company names. Deceptive practices give companies bad reputations and cloud future relationships with participants.
Quality of a survey depends upon the following • The thoroughness in planning • The soundness in sampling. • The adequacy and reliability of data. • The quality of analysis. • The interpretation of the findings.
Key steps in the survey process include: • Define the purpose, objectives and the output required. Experience has shown that well-defined output requirements at the outset minimize the risk of the survey producing invalid results. • Design collection methodology and sample selection method. • Develop survey procedures. Design and print test questionnaires and any other documentation (for example, instructions for interviewers and introductory letters). • Pilot test all aspects of the survey if possible. As a minimum, a small-scale pre-test of questionnaires can reveal problems with question wording, layout, understanding or respondent reaction. • Analyze test results (completed questionnaires, response/consent rate etc). Obtain feedback from respondents and/or interviewers. • Modify procedures, questionnaires and documentation according to test evaluation.
Finalize procedures, questionnaires and documentation. • Select sample. • Train interviewers (if interviewer-based). • Conduct the survey (that is, mail out questionnaires or commence interviewing) including follow-up of refusals and non-contacts, supervision and checks of interviewers’ work. • Prepare data entry, estimation and tabulation systems. • Code, enter and edit data. • Process data—calculate population estimates and standard errors, prepare tables. • Prepare report of survey results. • Prepare technical report. Evaluate and document all aspects of the survey for use when designing future surveys.
Purpose of surveys • To provide information to government or business enterprises, • To test hypotheses, and thereby to explain the casual relationships between variables and to find out the influences of various parameters. • To make comparisons of demographic groups (e.g low income group and high income groups, Behavioral or attitudinal groups with company(high production workers and low production workers) • To compare cause and effects and relationship to make use of for certain predictions (.e.g. relationship between increase in income and purchasing capability).
Types of surveys We are going to take a look at five different types of surveys, • Mail • Telephone Interview • Face-To- Face Interview • Electronic survey • Hand out survey
Advantages/merits of Survey Research • The major advantages of survey methods are • As compared to other methods (direct observation, experimentation) survey yield a broader range of information. Surveys are effective to produce information on socio-economic characteristics, attitudes, opinions, motives etc and to gather information for planning product features, advertising media, sales promotion, channels of distribution and other marketing variables. • The surveying method is most versatile because of its greatest strength. It is the only possible practical way to collect different types of information from individuals. E.g.: Socio-economic data, Attitudes, Opinions, Experiences, Expectations • Questioning is usually faster and cheaper that Observation.
Questions are simple to administer. • Data is reliable • The variability of results is reduced. • The survey method draws generalizations with respect to large population on the basis of studies made through representative samples. • The collection of data from respondents through interviewing deliberately explain facts previously unknown to the researcher. • Surveys are useful tools to verifying theories.
Disadvantages of Survey Method Even though survey method is a versatile instrument for extensive application, there are some limitations. • Human Biases of the respondents are there, for eg: “Ego” • Symantec difficulties are there - it is difficult, if not impossible, to state a given question in such a way that it will mean exactly same thing to each respondent. Similarly two different wordings of the same question will frequently produce quite different results. • Its feasibility depends upon the voluntariness, and cooperation of the respondents • A sample survey is normally with sampling error.
This method mostly depends upon the oral answers and the behavior of respondents may give misleading answers which may lead to response errors. • The survey may have measurement error in quantifying attitudes, abilities, and other personals traits or individual behavior. • There is a limit in the number of items possible to be collected in a single survey or in other words there is optimal duration of time for an interview.
Conclusion A survey is a systematic, standardized way of collecting information from people using questionnaires. There are many different ways of conducting a survey. Use methods that fit to your purpose, survey topic target audience and resources. Spend adequate time planning your survey project to make sure all aspects are well thought out.