Chapter 8: Data Collection Methods: Survey Research
As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when putting together a survey or interview. The questions you ask as a researcher, and how you ask them, significantly impact the outcome of your survey. Ensuring that the content reflects the objectives of your study is only one aspect to consider. Researchers must also ensure that the wording of the questions they ask maximize the potential to collect information that accurately reflects the respondents’ beliefs, attitudes or opinions, without biasing the responses..
It is also very important that, where possible, you pilot test your questions. It can be difficult for a researcher who designed the questions to identify ambiguities or context effects, etc., in the survey, so having other sets of eyes testing the survey can be very informative. It is very easy for a survey to end up with a “bad” question that must be thrown out of the analysis; any methods to minimize this should be utilized.
Though this module has focused on a very specific use of surveys/interviews, these are lessons that should be kept in mind constantly when working in your profession. Think about how the types of questions you ask and the way you ask them can lead you to different conclusions. This might mean that you choose an ineffective treatment due to a wrong diagnosis, or identify the wrong suspect in an investigation. Focusing on the objective (i.e., treating the patient, identifying and arresting a suspect, identifying the cause of a fire) will keep you focused on the types of questions to ask and how to ask them.