Survey Data Definition
Surveys have become trustworthy mediums of data collection using probability and non-probability sampling techniques. Survey data is comprehensive information gathered from a target audience about a particular topic of interest to conduct research on the basis of this collected data.
There are many methods used to gather survey data for statistical analysis in research. Various mediums are used to collect feedback and opinions from the desired sample of individuals. While conducting survey research, researchers prefer multiple sources to gather data such as online surveys, telephonic surveys, face-to-face surveys etc. The medium of gathering survey data can be instrumental in deciding the target sample for research and also how many from the sample can be effectively contacted along with how many actually respond to the survey.
Factors of collecting survey data such as how the interviewer will contact the respondent (online or offline), how the information is communicated to the respondents etc. decide the effectiveness of gathered data.
Survey Data Collection Methods with Examples
The methods used to collect survey data have evolved with the change in technology. From face-to-face surveys, telephonic surveys to now online and email surveys, the world of survey data collection is changed with time. Each survey data collection method has its pros and cons and every researcher has a preference for gathering accurate information from the target sample.
The survey response rates for each of these data collection methods will be different as their reach and impact is always different. Different methods are chosen according to specific target population characteristics as well as intent to examine human nature under various situations.
There are three main survey data collection methods – Telephonic Surveys, Face-to-face Surveys and Online Surveys.
- Face-to-face Surveys
Gaining information from respondents via face-to-face mediums is much more effective than the other mediums because respondents usually tend to trust the surveyors and provide honest and clear feedback about the subject in-hand.
Researchers can easily identify whether their respondents are uncomfortable with the asked questions and can be extremely productive in case there are sensitive topics involved in the discussion. This survey data collection method demands more cost-investment than in comparison to the other methods. According to the geographic or psychographic segmentation, researchers must be trained to gain accurate information.
- Telephone Surveys
Telephone surveys require much lesser investment than face-to-face surveys. Depending on the required reach, telephone surveys cost as much or a little more than online surveys. Contacting respondents via the telephonic medium requires less effort and manpower than the face-to-face survey medium.
Interviewers, if located at the same location, can cross-check their questions to ensure error-free questions are asked to the target audience. The main drawback of conducting telephone surveys is that establishing a friendly equation with the respondent becomes challenging due to the bridge of the medium. Respondents are also highly likely to choose to remain anonymous in their feedback over the phone as the reliability associated with the researcher can be questioned.
- Online Surveys
Online surveys are the most cost-effective and can reach the maximum number of people in comparison to the other mediums. The performance of these surveys is much more widespread than the other data collection methods. In situations where there are more than one questions to be asked to the target sample, certain researchers prefer conducting online surveys over the traditional face-to-face or telephone surveys.
Online surveys are effective where multiple questions are interconnected and the list of questions is lengthy. They are straightforward in their implementation and take almost minimum time of the respondents. The investment required for survey data collection using online surveys is also negligible in comparison to the other methods. The results are collected in real-time for researchers to analyze and decide corrective measures.
Survey Data Analysis
There are four main steps of survey data analysis:
- Understand the most popular survey research questions: The survey questions should align with the overall purpose of the survey. That is when the collected data will be effective in helping researchers. For example, if a seminar has been conducted, the researchers will send out a post-seminar feedback survey. The primary goal of this survey will be to understand whether the attendees are interested in attending the future seminars. The question will be: “How likely are you to attend future seminars?” – Data collected for this question will decide the likelihood of success of future seminars.
- Filter obtained results using cross-tabulation technique: Understand the various categories in the target audience and their thoughts using cross-tabulation format. For example, if there are business owners, administrators, students etc. who attend the seminar, the data about whether they would prefer attending future seminars or not can be represented using cross-tabulation.
- Evaluate the derived numbers: Analyzing the gathered information is critical. How many of the attendees are of the opinion that they will be attending future seminars and how many will not – these facts need to be evaluated according to the results obtained from the sample.
- Draw conclusions: Weave a story with the collected and analyzed data. What was the intention of the survey research and how does the survey data suffice that objective? – Understand that and develop accurate conclusive results.
Learn more: Seminar Evaluation Survey