When Is A Survey Not A Survey?
At Faunalytics, we know a few things about conducting surveys to gauge public opinion or evaluate the impact of a campaign or program. We are also big believers in the power of surveys — including online surveys — when they are used correctly. A new article from Idealware provides an in-depth review of available online survey tools. To that we add a few of our own suggestions.
The folks at Idealware have written an excellent review of online surveys called “A Few Good Online Survey Tools.” The article gives a rundown of nearly a dozen such tools, ranging from free, hosted versions (anyone ever heard of Survey Monkey?) to much more sophisticated solutions costing thousands of dollars. At Faunalytics, we use a custom version of LimeSurvey, one of the “advanced survey packages” mentioned in the article.
Idealware describes LimeSurvey as “A powerful, free and open source survey package appropriate for nonprofits who are looking for advanced survey logic and analysis feature, and who have substantial technology support. Its range of features includes full customization of survey look and feel, support for 40 different languages, piping, skip logic, a library of available survey questions, and blast emailing. The tool has a large support community and is under active development.” If you’d like to see how Faunalytics could put LimeSurvey to use for your research project, please contact us.
But finding a good survey tool is of course only one aspect of creating a good survey. Just about anyone can write a few questions, add them to Survey Monkey, and send out a survey. But before going that route, it’s a good idea to think through your research goals. You should also understand that your survey is only as good as the design of your questions and your sample selection. If your project is an important one, it makes sense to bring in someone knowledgeable about research design. If your project is critical to the success of your campaign or organization, consider hiring an expert.
In the meantime, here are a few previous blog posts that can help you understand surveys a little better, both as a consumer and a researcher:
- Survey Design 101: https://faunalytics.org/survey-design-101/
- Understanding Survey Results: https://faunalytics.org/understanding-survey-results/
- Understanding Survey Bias: https://faunalytics.org/understanding-survey-bias/
One final note for those on a tight budget. Don’t reinvent the wheel! Especially if you think your survey questions might have been asked before, use the tools available to you to look up past survey results. It’s also a good idea if you want to compare your results with past studies. Of course, we think our library is a good place to start for all animal-related studies, but another excellent resource is the iPoll Databank, developed by the Roper Center at the University of Connecticut. iPoll provides free (but somewhat limited) access to a half-million public opinion survey questions fielded over the past 65 years.