Conducting Surveys

Survey: It is the systematic gathering, recording and analyzing of information or data collected from the respondents.

Business organizations operate in a complex environment made up of many variables such as markets, consumers, competitors, government etc. Under these conditions, decision making is a challenging problem. To meet this challenge, it is essential for every organization to develop a system which is dependable and provides information for decision making. For generating such information, surveys are conducted. The survey process involves gathering, recording and analyzing the data. Before conducting a survey, the specific problem for which the survey has to be conducted should be defined. The problem has to be fully understood after considering all the factors involved.

Planning a Survey:

The data required to solve the problem should be listed and the sources from which such data can be obtained should be identified. Data is of two types, Primary and Secondary data. Primary data is the data collected from field sources (ex:- consumers) whereas secondary data is the data collected from books, articles etc in a survey primary data is collected.

Determining sources of Information:

Determining the sources of data depends on two conditions, namely, usefulness of the data and cost of data. The usefulness is whether the source is relevant, adequate and reliable. Like wise, the cost is also an important consideration. The economies of the source in terms of cost and benefit have to be evaluated.

Preparation of Data Collection Forms:

A standard format called questionnaire is prepared for collecting information in a survey. The questionnaire is a list of questions to be asked. The questions to be asked will have to be presented in a comprehensive and acceptable form. There cannot be a uniform questionnaire for all the surveys. It will vary according to the needs of the study.

Questionnaire construction is more an art than a science. While constructing a questionnaire some basic rules have to be followed. They are:

1) The information that has to be collected should be determined.
2) The type of questionnaire to be used should be determined

Questionnaires are of two types:

Structured Questionnaire: is one in which the sequence of questions is fixed and should not be changed.

Non-structured Questionnaire: A non structured questionnaire is one in which there is no fixed sequence of questions

1) The content of each individual question has to be determined.
2) The type of questions should be determined.

Questions are of three types – open ended questions in which the respondent is free to answer in his own words and express ideas which he thinks are pertinent.

Multiple choice questions in which respondents have a number of specific alternatives from which they are to choose one or more.

Dichotomous questions in which there are only two choices (ex: yes or no) for the respondent, from which one has to be chosen.

The wording of questions should be decided. The questions should define the issue, they should be simple to understand and should not be ambiguous.

The sequence of the questions should be decided. The opening questions must create interest in the respondent. Complex questions should be placed at the end of the questionnaire.

A survey is a systematic gathering of information from respondents for the purpose of understanding and predicting some aspects of the behavior of the population of interest. Population is the whole universe of sources from which the data can be collected. Generally, a survey is carried out on a sample of the population. An appropriate questionnaire is designed, the sample is contacted and responses are collected during the survey. The survey method is the most popular of research methods and is used extensively.