Over the past two years the contracts I’ve worked on have increasingly focussed on survey design and analysis, to the extent that this now makes up around 75% of my work. There used to be a lot more primary research about (literature reviews, data collection in the field, interviews etc), but the current economic climate seems to have forced people into using the cheapest methods of data collection, and this often results in the creation of online surveys.
Clients frequently ask me to analyse survey data after it’s been collected, which can make things tricky if the survey design wasn’t so hot in the first place! This often results in clients subsequently requesting I re-design the original survey tool in order to make it robust enough to survive several years “un-tweaked”.
Getting the design of a survey right is vital, especially as many clients need to gather benchmarking metrics – if questions are tweaked each year it becomes impossible to compare between years.
This got me thinking about teaching survey design and analysis. So many sectors and trades now use online surveys, people in wildly different job roles can be responsible for them, but how do people learn to design and analyse surveys effectively?
It’s easy to run a bad online survey. The web is littered with them – surveys that are way too long, questions that are ambiguous or irrelevant, pop-up requests that are annoying. Such surveys only serve to annoy customers or staff, and collect data that is unlikely to be valid or representative.
Similarly, there are often problems with survey analysis. Reports often only contain mean averages and simple graphs, making it all too easy to misinterpret information, report findings incorrectly, or miss subtle data trends. Even when a difference in averages between groups does appear, how do you know that difference is real and not due to chance alone?
So I decided it was time to organise a couple of half-day workshops, one about online survey design and a second that focuses on survey analysis. They’ll both be held at the beautiful MShed building in Bristol in December and January. I’ve also started offering them as an in-house training package.
I’ll let you know how it goes! And if you’re interested in attending, click here for more info’.