Survey Research: Data Quality

The goal of every survey project is the accumulation of high-quality data. There are various factors which influence the quality of the data obtained during the course of the survey project: the nature of the survey, the data collection workers and the response rates acquired.

Surveys are designed to elicit the maximum amount of data pertinent to the questions that motivate the research. However, they also take into account the efficiency of deployment and the importance of ensuring a respondent’s willingness to participate. The lengthier the survey, the greater the risk of reduced response rates, or the greater the need to incentivize respondents to complete it, which in turn increases overall costs. The layout of the survey design, the ease with which both interviewer and respondent can navigate the questionnaire, as well as the clarity of the questions themselves can also affect the quality of the resultant data. The density of available respondents within a given area can also make a difference: lower response rates can be countered by adding additional respondents who are located near to hand, without the additional expense of time and travel to reach qualified individuals further away.

The survey workers are also critical to the acquisition of high-quality data. Data collectors must be able to reach the survey location on time, be attentive to detail, and be warm and engaging towards potential respondents with whom they are unacquainted. They must have the stamina to stand for hours at a time, understand not only how to deploy the survey but how to approach respondents to maximize their chances of a successful questionnaire completion. Survey workers must be presentable in appearance and outgoing and friendly in their demeanor. Ideally they would have experience in record keeping, and a basic understanding of the survey methodology in use. For temporary workers, new to survey research, additional funds must be allotted to cover training in survey deployment, with the length of training required dependent upon the experience of each particular data collector. A lack of trained, skilled data collectors fundamentally affects data quality and response rates.

Join us next week for: Survey Research: Duration and Manageability

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