7 Steps When Conducting Survey Research - A Beginner-Friendly Guide

Conducting survey research encompasses getting insights from a diverse group of people by asking them questions and analyzing their answers. It is the best way to collect information about people’s preferences, beliefs, characteristics, and related valuable information.

The key to a good survey is asking relevant questions that will give you the information you need. You can use surveys for a one-time purpose or use them several times over a period of time.

Perhaps you’re wondering: What is the right way to conduct survey research?

This article will explain how to conduct survey research even if you are a beginner. It will lay out the 7 steps in conducting survey research and guide you so that your research is a success.

1. Identify your research goals and objectives

To explain the process of conducting a survey, we have to start from the beginning. The process of conducting a survey consists of several steps, each equally important for the research outcome. When starting, the first thing to do is to identify your research aims. 

Doing this will help with the subsequent steps in conducting survey research, like finding the right audience and designing appropriate questions. In addition, it will give you insight into what data is most important, since everything you learn should help you achieve your goals.

By identifying your goals, you answer questions like: What type of information am I collecting? Is it general or specific? Is it for a particular or broad audience? Your goals will define the answers to these questions and are the primary aim of your research. They explain the purpose of conducting the survey research and what you plan to achieve with it. An objective is a specific action that helps achieve research goals. Usually, for every goal, there are several objectives.

The answers you collect from a survey are only helpful if you know how to properly use them. Once goals are determined, you’ll get a better idea of what it is you want to learn and it will be easier to design questions.

Setting goals and objectives can be confusing, so to  define the better ask yourself the following questions:

What is the subject or topic of your research?

By answering this question, you will figure out what you need feedback or further opinions about.

What do I want to learn?

To design the right questions, you first need to know what you want to learn about a particular subject.

What am I looking to achieve with the collected data?

This answer will help you define how the survey will help you improve, adjudicate, or understand something.

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2. Define the population and sample - Who will participate in the survey?

When conducting survey research, you need to know the target audience from which information is being gathered. This is the demographic group that will participate in your survey. The key to successfully defining this group is to narrow down a specific segment that will provide you with accurate and unbiased information.

Depending on your needs and the kind of information you are searching for, this group can be broad; for example, the population of Florida. Or it can be relatively narrow, like consumers of a specific product between the ages of 18 and 24.

It is rarely possible to survey the entire population that is being researched, so instead, a sample population is surveyed. This group should represent the subject population as a whole; its number depends on various factors, mainly on the size of the subject population. Therefore, the larger and more representative the sample is, the more valid the survey.

3. Decide on the type of survey method you will use

You need to precisely determine what mode of collecting data you will be using. The ways of conducting a survey may depend on sample size, location, types of questions, and costs of conducting it.

Based on the purpose of your research, there are various methods of conducting a survey that can be chosen:

Interviews or in-person surveys - are they better than written surveys?

In-person surveys are useful for smaller sample sizes because they allow you to gather more detailed information on the subject of the survey. You can conduct them either by phone or in person.

The advantage of interviews is that the interviewer can clarify questions and seek additional information. The main risk is a researcher’s bias or respondents’ equivocation, but a skilled interviewer is usually able to eliminate these threats.

Online surveys - easiest way to reach a very broad audience

Following the correct steps in conducting an online survey is essential to discovering many advantages, such as cost-efficiency and flexibility. In addition, online surveys enable you to reach either a vast audience or a focussed handful of people, depending on your needs.

Using online tools is one of the most effective methods of conducting a survey. They can be used by anyone and are easily customized for any target group. There are numerous types of online surveys that can be sent via email, hosted on a website, and even advertised through social media.

To best follow the correct steps of conducting a survey, get additional help from SurveyPlanet. All you need to do is sign up for an account and all the help you need to create perfect surveys will be at your fingertips.

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Mail survey - control who the participants are

These surveys are delivered to the respondents’ email addresses. By using a mail survey, you can easily access a large sample and have control over who is included in the sample. Though this was traditionally the most common survey research method, the response rate now is often relatively low.

4. Design the questions

Survey questions play a significant role in the success of survey research. Therefore, when deciding what questions to ask and how to ask them, it is crucial to consider various factors to ensure that your research is successful.

Types of questions -what are the most common questions used in survey research?

When composing questions, choose between closed-ended and open-ended questions. Closed-ended questions have predefined answer options, while open-ended ones enable respondents to shape an answer in their own words.

Before deciding which questions to use, get acquainted with your options. Some of the common types of questions used when conducting survey research include:

The content, phrasing, and order of the questions

To make sure your survey research results are reliable, each question in the survey needs to be formulated carefully. They should be directly relevant to the survey’s purpose and include enough information to be answered accurately.

If you decide on closed-ended questions, make sure the available answers cover all possibilities. In addition, all questions should be clear and precise without vague words, and in the language idiom that respondents understand. 

When organizing the questions, make sure the order is logical. For example, easy and closed-ended questions will encourage respondents to continue and should be at the beginning of the survey. More difficult and complex questions should be at the end. If questions are related, they should be placed next to each other, and if there are several topics covered then related questions should be grouped.

5. Distribute the survey and gather responses

When conducting survey research, distribute the survey in person, over the phone, by email, or through an online form.

Before starting your survey, determine the number of responses you require and how to access the survey sample. It is essential to monitor your response rate, which is found by dividing the number of respondents who answered the survey by the number of people in the sample.

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6. Analyze the collected data

As there are various methods of conducting a survey, there are also different methods of analyzing the data collected. After you have processed the data and sorted the responses (usually with the help of a computer program), you should clean the data by removing incomplete or inaccurate responses.

Depending on the type of questions utilized, there are different data analysis methods. For example, open-ended questions require a bucketing approach in which labels are added to each response and are grouped into categories.

Closed-ended questions need statistical analysis. For interviews, you can use the qualitative method like thematic analysis and for the Likert scale, questions use analysis tools (mean, median, and mode).

Other practical analyzing methods are cross-tabulation and filtering. Filtering can help you understand your audience better and organize results so that data analysis is quicker and more accessible.

If you are using an online survey tool, data will be compiled automatically, so the only thing you need is to identify patterns and trends.

7. Create a report based on your survey

The last of the 7 steps in conducting survey research is creating a report. Analyzed data should be translated into units of information that directly correspond to the aims and goals you identified before creating the survey.

Depending on the formality of the report, you need to include different kinds of information:

  • Your initial aims and goals

  • Methods of creation and distribution

  • How the target audience or sample was selected

  • Methods of analysis 

  • The results of your survey

  • Problems encountered and whether they influenced results

  • Conclusion and recommendations

Now that you have gone through our 7 steps in conducting survey research and understand how to conduct one, why not create your own survey? Conduct research that will help you make better choices and decisions.

Sign up for a SurveyPlanet account to access premade questions and survey themes. In addition, if you upgrade to a SurveyPlanet Pro account, you will gain access to many unique tools that will enhance your survey creation and analysis experience

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