How to Conduct Effective Surveys for Your Dissertation Data Gathering Stage

A great way of gathering valuable data for your dissertation is by creating an effective survey. In what is usually a simple process you can get a lot of data and from verifiable sources. But you do need to know how to conduct a proper survey because the data gathered will be reflected directly in your dissertation. Erroneous information can mean that all of your work is called into question and can be disastrous to your academic career.

  • Identify your survey’s objectives. The first step of conducting a great survey for your dissertation is to define your objectives. What is it you want to know? If you put together a generic or less-than-focused survey, you’re results will not provide you with anything useful. That’s why it’s important to focus your questions on a particular point.
  • Choose your target survey audience. You might have a particular group in mind, but consider narrowing your focus so that you your results reveal something accurate about a particular group. Do you want to focus on males or females? Do you want to ask only people 35-years old or younger? History students? Physics students? Statistically, larger sample sizes will deliver more results, but a focused target audience will deliver more accurate results.
  • Prioritize your questions. Take out your list of questions and organize them by topics or subjects. Consider removing questions that seem to repeat themselves. In each section, list your questions by order of importance and look for ways to edit questions or cut out the least important ones. Your target survey group will be more willing to complete a survey that is short and to the point. Long surveys usually also produce a high level of skipped questions or generic answers (i.e., all “yes” or all “no” answers) from participants wishing to get to the end.
  • Pre-test your survey with a small sample. This may sound like a no-brainer, but too many make the mistake of starting their survey without first testing it with a small group. Whether you use friends or family, pre-test your survey to make sure the question you’ve written make sense and that your survey questions flow naturally. Request feedback and act on recommended changes if it would improve your data gathering process.
  • Communicate your purpose. It’s very important to let your survey group know why they’re being surveyed. Explain why the survey is relevant to your work and how you expect it will help you develop your argument on a particular topic. Your survey group will be more attentive to each question and will provide you with honest, thoughtful answers.

Surveys take the guesswork out of a particular question or set of problems you need answered. Sticking to the these tips when conducting your survey will help you gather better data for your dissertation regardless of whether you conduct your survey by email, web or in person.

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