Fact Sheet 10

Tips on Developing and Analysing a Community Survey

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Informing the Community about Your Survey


Before developing survey questions, outline the aims of your survey: this will allow you to provide a brief introduction on the purpose of the survey for your participants, and will mean that you check that all questions are relevant to the overarching topic.


Find the right sample for your survey.


Provide sufficient background information and objectives so that your participants understand why the information is being collected, and where it will be used. Inform participants of their privacy.


Preparing Reliable and Valid Questions for Your Survey


Decide upon the method of survey delivery: (online, mail, face to face, telephone) as this will impact upon the number of questions you can ask, and the language used.


Pilot your survey before going live:  adequate testing allows any grammatical or spelling errors to be rectified, will give you a chance to ensure the clarity of your survey design, and allow you to estimate how long the survey will take to complete.


Test the order of the questions to ensure the flow of the survey.


Provide a Neutral or ‘Other’ option in scale questions.  This allows participants to provide qualitative data if required.
Use statistical standards when developing questions. This should ensure that questions are easy to understand.


Avoid using loaded questions or any jargon, stereotypes, or emotive language.


Thank your participants for their time and provide an estimate of when the final report will be available.


Effectively Distributing Your Survey


Develop your participant list carefully. A random sample from the community will allow you to generalise your results to the population.


Provide support information for your participants and be prepared to support them if required. They may need assistance with completing questions, or run into technical issues if the survey is online.


If the survey is long, or about a particularly difficult subject, you may want to provide an incentive for participants such as a prize or payment.


Set a definitive end date for responses.


Analysing Results – Ensuring Accuracy and Reliability


Quantitative data (numbers):  Where possible, use widely accepted statistical standards to code data.  This allows for efficient analysis, and ensures that data will be accessible, and comparable for future surveys.


Neutral responses and non-responses must be reported on appropriately and accurately.


Qualitative data (text responses): Begin by looking for patterns in responses, then tally the number of each similar response. Response patterns can be summarised for reporting purposes.

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