Survey Research

Many research projects and dissertations need the collection of primary data from individuals. Questionnaires are often a good way to gather such information and views. However, a badly designed questionnaire may get only unusable responses or none at all. It is important to be able to identify and avoid any pitfalls of questionnaires to ensure a successful result.

What do you want to know?

Before you even write the first question, it is important that you have a very clear idea about what you want your questionnaire to achieve. Our section on defining a research question should help you with this. Write down your research goals, and think about what information you need to get from respondents to meet those goals. Think also about how you are going to analyse each question to get the results you need. Remember there is a difference between things you need to know, and those it would be nice to know. Eliminate unnecessary lines of questioning at the planning stage.

Maximise your chances of success

The aim of questionnaire design is to get as many responses as you can that are usable and accurate. To maximise your response rate:

  • give your questionnaire a short and meaningful title
  • keep the questionnaire as short and succinct as possible
  • offer incentives for responding if appropriate
  • be creative - use different colours and images to make it attractive; and
  • make it convenient - there are many websites on the internet you can use to disseminate surveys.