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Survey Methods | Documentation
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Survey Methods Comparisons

This document discusses the different methods of conducting surveys and compares online web-based surveys with other survey methods.

Different survey methods:-

  • Postal
  • Telephone interview
  • Face to face interview
  • Web-based online

To determine which of the various survey methods is the most suitable it is very much dependent on the specific survey in question.

A survey on peoples experiences of Internet shopping would by its very nature be totally suited to be run entirely online as a web-based survey, as the views of those that have little interest, experience or knowledge of shopping online may not be relevant. By the same token a survey conducted as a web-based online survey to determine peoples reluctance to get 'online' is conversely likely to be entirely unsuitable.

As with most advances in technology any new method should not be viewed automatically as a replacement to other traditional methods but as a complimentary method.

Viewing different methodologies as complementary to one another allows methods to be used in conjunction with one another and thereby increasing the overall effectiveness of a survey. For example a survey that is conducted online through the Internet could also be run in parallel with a telephone campaign where the telephone operator is completing the online survey on behalf of the respondent.

Even where a traditional postal method is considered the most effective method for a specific campaigned Survey Galaxy could still be used to cost effectively prototype the survey.

Online considerations
An early justifiable criticism of web based online surveys was that the respondents were not representative enough of a population given that not everyone had access to the Internet. Although this may still be the case for some countries and regions it is not a valid argument anymore for the mainstream population.

Research conducted on the effectiveness of web-based surveys indicates that online surveys have some clear benefits over other forms of survey methods.

Non or incomplete responses
Many of the contributing factors to the problem to the non or incomplete responses of respondents are common to all methods of conducting a survey including the type of questions asked, the overuse use of open ended questions, the general design of the survey and the incentives applied.

In some cases the unique ability for online surveys to be graphically complex, animated and fancy has been shown to have a negative effect possible due to issues relating to the time taken to download pages.

However, providing a survey follows the fundamental basic guidelines to designing effective surveys online web-based surveys still allow unique benefits over other methods such as the ability to trace and analyse the answering process. Studies on how far through a survey respondents get before quitting allows those conducting surveys a valuable insight into the probable reasons that surveys are not completed, allowing for improvements to future surveys.

Correct responses and legibility
Online web-based surveys will cut down on typical mistakes where for example respondents have ticked more than one answer to a question requiring a single response or where they have written something that is illegible. By declaring a response as a radio button format only one answer is possible and by accepting only typed responses illegible handwriting is no longer a problem.

Data collection
Because Survey Galaxy's online web-based surveys store respondent information in real time as each respondent completes the survey there is no need to either wait for completed surveys to be returned, nor is there any time consuming and expensive OMR/OCR techniques required to process the returned forms and compile the response data into a form for analysis.

Reduce the process
The survey layout, printing process, postal, collection and collation of information are all areas that through Survey Galaxy's online web-based services surveys can be significantly reduced and in some instances such as "online only" surveys completely excluded, not only saving cost but time.

It would be too simplistic to offer one solution over another as being a panacea to the problems associated with conducting surveys.

Although online web-based surveys offer advantages that are not possible with other methods there are subjects and reasons why other methods would be better suited.

In the area of prototyping, managing and maintaining surveys Survey Galaxy believe that there clear and distinct advantages in using Survey Galaxy no matter what method is used as the final method of delivery.

Survey Methods | Documentation 25-May-2024 15:20