Survey Design

Each sample is a primary element for fulfilling a survey design.  Ideally it will have been considered as the most cost efficient and appropriate way to fulfil the objectives of the research.

If you would like any advice on survey design please email [email protected] telling us the objectives of the survey and a guide as to your proposed budget.  We will respond with some comments within 24 hours and, if appropriate, we will also provide a cost for the detailed survey design, including a budget for each element.

Survey design is an all-encompassing term for determining the various elements to be included in the research and also exactly how the survey will be conducted.  It therefore includes the following considerations:

  • Is the research required to be qualitative, quantitative or mixed method?
  • Choice of mode of research – face to face, telephone, on-line or mixed mode.
  • Size of sample required, choice of sample frame and method of selection of sample.
  • Design of the questionnaire and other materials
  • Analysis required including choice of statistical tests to be used (if any).
  • Other considerations (e.g. if face to face or telephone, number of interviewers to be used)

Moreover, the importance of survey design is evidenced by the fact that the value of the research is entirely dependent upon how well the survey has been designed to provide the insight required by the research objectives.   Therefore the critical factor in creating an appropriate design is a clear statement of the objectives of the research.

Then, to meet those objectives there will be three key dimensions to the design that will need to be considered:

  1. What are the key questions we are seeking answers to?
  2. Who can best provide answers to those questions?
  3. How reliable do we need the answers to be?

Each of these considerations will influence the details required for each of items 1) through 6) above.  For example, if the research is concerned with testing advertising, we might choose a qualitative process which might either be by online or face to face focus group.  Or, possibly an online survey providing stimulus material to individuals and collecting their responses through a structured questionnaire.  The difference between the two approaches would depend primarily upon the statistical reliability sought for the results.  Whatever the consideration of statistical reliability the need for appropriate stimulus material would rule out the use of the telephone for the data collection.

Indeed it is this question of reliability that is often the most important in determining the best approach to the research project.  For example, when testing the efficacy of drugs it is important to have a really large sample wherever possible, not necessarily to prove the drug but also to discover any hidden side effects.  Thus, it is also important to ensued the sample is as representative of the likely user population as is possible.

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