Questionnaires and surveys can be amazing for research. They can allow you to gather a large amount of data (Depending on group size) and use that in your research. You can also use this information to help formulate the general view or opinion on a topic, how often someone does something, or anything else that strikes your fancy.
Now you may be asking which to use for your research. Well that is a tough question to answer. In all honesty it really depends on a few factors. The biggest ones for using a survey being you need a quick way of getting information(Hampton,Vilela,n.d.), you need to reach a large number of people, you need information that is valid on a large scale to a group of people, and the information you need isn’t readily available. Conducting a survey can be done very simply or it can be as complicated as you want. This is determined by how much you ask and the number of people you give it to.
The information yielded from doing a survey or questionnaires depends on the questions you use. You have to make sure that the questions you pick and the choices you give reflect the information you’re trying to gather. For example, if you are conducting a survey on whether people like vanilla or chocolate ice cream you wouldn’t put a question on there asking which Star Wars movie was their favorite unless of course you were trying to find a correlation between ice cream and Star Wars.
Now you’re most likely saying, “Wow Mr.Blogger!, Please tell me more and give examples of when or when not to use these research methods.”, well reader that time is now. So strap your boots on tight and get ready to go on the research roller coaster of research do’s and don’ts!.
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5302a1.htm – This is an example of when a survey is a good thing.
The forefront of this research was to look into risk behavior of youth. They selected a number of high schools using the grade range of 9-12 and conducted surveys on them to gather their data. What followed was a wealth of information that linked directly into what they were researching. Now could you imagine if they tried to do this without surveys and only researched causes of death? This allowed them to gather first hand data from the group of people (population) they were studying. The results are an interesting read to.
Now for an example of when you shouldn’t do a survey. Imagine if you will that you are an inventor. You have just made a new invention, we shall call it “The Machine That Dings” (TMTD). You’re really excited about getting this new invention out on the open market, but first you want to make sure you have done everything you can to make sure the TMTD is the top dinging machine and people will want to buy it. You only have one version of the machine so you have to provide pictures and videos of the TMTD to show people, but no actual prototype for them to use and try out.
This is a big bad horrible idea to use a survey/questionnaire. The reasons being, you do not have a lot of money after building your invention, you don’t know much about your target audience, you want to use this survey was a way to figure out how much you want to invest into mass producing this new invention.
Knowing when and where to use these research tools is just as important on how to use them effectively.
Hampton, C. Vilela, M. (n.d.). Section 13. Conducting Surveys. Retrieved from