By User:MeekMark based on jpg version by Wikipedia:User:Dysprosia (Prototype) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Dr. Lauren Conoscenti (Tufts University) led the afternoon breakout session on survey research. Though I had learned survey basics in different courses, I felt that I could use a refresher. Besides, I was bound to learn a few more tips.
I did learn, for example, to coordinate schedules with the office of institutional research. That way I don’t send out my survey at a time when people are already inundated with surveys.
This tip demonstrated how best practices are intertwined with better data. Higher response rates generally give us better–or at least fuller– data. Sending out a survey at the wrong time, for example, can lead to survey fatigue in our population. Survey fatigue leads to fewer respondents.
Even aesthetics can impact response rates or completeness of surveys. An overly long list of options can lead to people checking items at the top of the list and ignoring the choices near the end. Alternately people could ignore the question entirely. Either strategy would skew the results.
Most importantly the talk reinforced the need to start with your research question. Is a survey the best data collection for my particular question? Answering this question is the first step to better data.