Survey research is the most
common form of public relations research. Through the use of specifically
worded questionnaires and a carefully selected sample, researchers are
able to make judgments about a much larger population. The degree
to which survey results can be seen as being representative of a larger
population depends on the methodology used. Survey research
is generally conducted in three ways: through face-to-face interviews,
over the telephone, or through self-administered questionnaires.
What follows is a checklist for the conduct of survey research:
Define the problem or purpose.
Who are the target audiences in whom you are interested and what is
it that you want to find out?
Identify population and choose
sample. To embark upon this step, one has to understand several basic
- the selection of a segment of a population for the purpose
of making observations of and drawing conclusions about the population
as a whole.
Frame - the list from which the sample, or some stage of the sample,
Sampling - a sample will be representative of the population from which
it is selected if all members of that population have an equal chance of
being selected in the sample.
Sampling - when a sample is selected without regard to whether everyone
in the population has an equal chance of being selected.
There are several sampling techniques from which you can select:
Simple Random Sampling -
every person within the sampling frame is assigned a number. Through
a random selection of numbers, a sample is developed.
Systematic Sampling -
involves the selection of every Kth member of a sampling frame. For
example: if you are seeking a sample of 250 names from a survey frame of
2500, then K=2500/250 or 10. In this scenario, select every 10th
name for the sample.
Cluster Sampling -
involves breaking the population into heterogeneous clusters and then selecting
the sample from individual clusters. This is often done when segment(s)
of the desired population is/are overrepresented in the sampling frame.
Census - every member
of the sampling frame is surveyed.
Create the survey instrument.
The form a survey instrument is dictated by how it is to be administered
and analyzed. Questions can take four basic forms: Dichotomous (such
as true/false, yes/no), Rating Scale (measures the range, degree
or intensity of attitudes), Open-ended (the response set is not specifically
defined), and Close-ended (the response set is specifically defined). There
are several concerns to be considered when wording survey questions:
Use simple words - use
language that is appropriate and understood by the audience for whom the
survey is intended.
Don't be vague - use
language that has a clear or specific meaning.
Keep it short - respondents
may balk at answering long questions or surveys.
Avoid bias in the wording
or ordering of questions - the manner in which a question is worded
or its placement can influence responses to questions that follow.
Don't ask objectionable questions
even the most sensitive of information can be obtained if questions are
Save the toughest questions
for last - asking the toughest questions first could abruptly end the
process or bias subsequent responses.
Don't assume knowledge -
the respondent may need background information.
Pretest the questionnaire
if there are any bugs in the survey instrument, it is best to find
them before distributing surveys on a large scale. Run a small test
sample first to see if the questions are understood.
Logistical concerns -
Can the personnel requirements be met? Can the survey be administered
within the desired time frame? Does it fit into the budget?
Train data collectors.
training, data collectors could inadvertently influence the outcome of
the survey. They should be trained to administer the survey the same
way every time.
to JOUR 523 page
Compile and analyze raw data.
to JOUR 676 Online Course Packet
to Professor Guth's home page