Surveys/ Questionnaires                        


This page sets out to provide some basic ground rules for conducting fieldwork where you have to extract information from other people.

• When to use a survey
• How to design a survey
• Planning the Fieldwork
• Approaching your Audience
• Recording the Data
• Data Analysis
• Examples



When to use a survey

Some forms of fieldwork require you to ask people questions. Perhaps you want to know how people feel about a new road, or the quality of services at a holiday resort. In situations such as these, where large amounts of data are likely to be collected, it is important to make sure that you ask everyone the right questions and the same questions.

Using a survey, and reading the questions from it, will ensure that every time you interview a person, you will be asking them the same questions that you asked everybody else. You won't forget any questions and you won't re-word them so that their meaning changes.

If you want to avoid (vermijden) a huge range of answers, you can use questions with a fixed set of possible answers, and encourage the people you interview to select one of the possible answers on your sheet.

A clipboard (klembord) and a professional looking survey helps to make you look 'official'. If you look the part, people are more willing to stop and help you. The clipboard identifies you as a researcher straight away. Some people will just ignore you if you wander up and start asking them questions without any warning.

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How to design a survey

Your survey should contain a mix of question types:
• multiple choice;
• closed;
• open

and should cover at least the following areas:

Customer profiles (sex, age, income);
Customer satisfaction (product, price, communication of information, packaging, suggestions for improvement).
Customer attitudes/ behavior (experience and opinion).

• The most important thing is to know exactly what information you need to collect.
Write a list of your objectives and the types of information you will need to collect.

• Look for the key parts of the question. Draw up a list of possible reasons.

Make the questions short, precise and polite. Don't ask double questions and expect only one answer.

• If you are going to offer a selection of possible answers from which people can select, remember to
add a 'Don't know / Don't mind'
option too.

• Add the key questions at the start of your list.

There are few things worse than going right through your survey only to discover on the last question
that the person is not in the group you wanted to interview!

• On the subject of age, be careful about how you ask personal questions.
Some people will not appreciate being asked their exact age, how much they earn, their home address
other details which they consider to be private. Try to ask for numerical values in the form of a range.
Most people are more willing to answer such questions. For example:

How old are you?
Under 16
16 to 30
Over 30

Never put the same value in two questions. This is how not to do it:

How much do you earn per year?
Less than £10,000
£10,000 to £15,000
£15,000 to £20,000

Such questions cause problems when the answer lies in two groups. Which answer should be ticked for a person who earns £15,000?
Is it £10,000 to £15,000 or should it be £15,000 to £20,000?

• Finally, read through your questions to make sure that they will get you the information you need. Get a friend to read them or, better still, persuade (overhalen) them to let you do a practice interview with them. This is the last stage before getting your questionnaire typed up and duplicated.

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Planning the Fieldwork

Think carefully about when and where you will find the type of people you want to interview. It's no good looking for people going into a bank on a Sunday afternoon for example.

Sort out transport, if needed, before the day arrives. Be sure that you have everything you need - survey sheets, pens, clipboard, suitable clothing for any possible weather conditions and something to eat / drink. A large, clear, plastic bag is useful if there is any chance of rain.

Let reliable people know where you will be, and set a time by which you will have returned. This is particularly important when you are far from home and/or in a possibly unsafe situation. It doesn't matter how confident you are, accidents can happen.

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Approaching your Audience

• Stand where people can see you; don't suddenly jump out at them from a doorway.

Always try to interview with a friend or companion. There are some strange people out there so always be safe. Don't try to approach people in dangerous places where either you or they may get hurt.

Don't approach people who seem aggressive or hostile, and NEVER get into an argument with them.

Catch people in a good mood; you need their help and they are doing you a favour,so pick your time and location with care. People who seem relaxed and not too busy will respond better to your request than a person rushing past and obviously in a hurry.

• Finally, interview a good cross-section of the population if your results are going to be valid.

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Recording the Data

• As you ask questions, enter the answers straight away. NEVER rely on your memory unless there is no alternative.

• Clearly label any errors or corrections so that there will be no confusion when you look at the data in a few months time.

• Try to void using pens with ink that will run when it gets wet.

• Make good use of colour pens / pencils; different colours perhaps representing different groups of people or answers.

• Be consistent - don't change your keys or abbreviations all the time. Devise a set of abbreviations you are going to use and stick to them.

• At the end of your fieldwork, CHECK every survey and make any corrections needed BEFORE YOU FORGET.

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Data Analysis

Briefly, make sure that you choose a form of analysis that is appropriate to the type of data you have collected. Numerical data can be represented in very many ways - make sure you select the right way.

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example1 example2 example3

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