Establishing clear goals and objectives is essential to create a survey that results in valuable data. A goal is an overarching principle or broad statement of the primary aim or outcome. It guides decision making. Objectives are specific and measurable steps to meet the goal. So, start by writing an overall goal and then break it down into objectives. Resist the urge to dive head-first into question writing.
Objectives shape your questions
Once you have specific and measurable objectives, you can start to think about writing questions. The questions need to achieve the objectives. In order to develop the objectives it’s important to make absolutely sure that you are confident about the subject at hand. There are a couple of ways you can do this. One is to consult with experts and another is to do some research before you start writing.
Establish a Steering Committee or talk to a subject matter expert!
Depending on the type of survey you are designing, it can be helpful to talk to a subject matter expert or involve a Steering Committee before you do your own research.
Experts in their fields know about the subtlety in a topic area: The things that can look important but are ultimately distracting. If you have the time and ability to talk to someone in the field, it can save you a lot of time and help you focus your research into the right areas.
The other benefit of talking to a subject-matter expert or a Steering Committee is that they are likely to know what the pitfalls are with certain types of questions, and know what to expect. They can help you to shape your objectives into questions that are really going to work for your survey.
Research the topic
Research your topic before writing questions about it. This can help you uncover answers to certain questions, and help you form questions you would not have considered. Reasearch also represents an opportunity to compare the facts and figures you get from different resources. When facts vary, it is an indication that more research is needed.
Conducting research will help you to craft smart questions for your audience.
Get a survey expert to help
You and your team will be more than capable of creating thought-provoking questions. Even so, it can be beneficial to talk to an experienced researcher or consultant. Someone with strong survey-building experience can help you clarify the type of information you’re seeking and avoid pitfalls. Bringing in a third party adds an objective pair of eyes to the process. They will be able to help you make your objectives more specific, and find out where you might need or want more information.
Objective eyes can spot gaps, weaknesses, and vague objectives that you might otherwise not see.
- Write down your survey goals
- Identify the specific and measurable survey objectives
- Get feedback from survey and subject-matter experts or a Steering Committee
- Research the topic from end to end
- Create your questions
By following these steps, you will make sure that you asking the right questions of the right people – to get good data – every time.
Contact Spark Chart if you need help to make sure your survey project is a success. Or sign up for the Spark Chart survey software to make the process easy. Here is a summary of Spark Chart survey software features.