Survey research refers to the process of collecting information from people in person, through writing or via online participation. It’s essentially a research method that’s done to collect and study people’s opinions and beliefs. You can organize the demographic information based on principles like age, sex, and ethnicity.
Like any other discipline or job out there, you’ll need survey research training to be able to collect the demographic data successfully. At a basic level, there are two methods of data collection—the questionnaire and interview method. The method that you should use at any given time depends on the kind of response that you are expecting from your audience.
The Questionnaire Method
Questionnaires are used mostly where the identity of the respondents is not important. It’s meant to encourage people who will only participate if their identity is anonymous. In this case, the questions asked are mostly closed-ended. Another important benefit of using questionnaire method is the fact that it is possible to reach a large number of people easily and economically. A typical standard questionnaire should provide quantifiable answers for the research topic. The main shortcoming of this method is that you may not get immediate clarifications for answers given by the respondents. Additionally, you’ll need a considerably bigger budget to run the questionnaires.
Essentially, there are two techniques used to administer questionnaires:
• Self-administered technique: This method is often referred to as the mail survey method because the questions are sent to the respondents via email. The respondent is required to answer the questions online and submit the response through the same way that the questions were sent (that’s through the mail).
• Household drop-off: This requires the respondents to offer their opinions through writing. The questionnaires are dropped where the respondents are and they are required to share their responses to the questions without sharing their identity.
The Interview Method
Unlike questionnaires, interviews require the respondents to give out their identities when sharing their responses. The advantage here is that you can make immediate follow-up and seek clarifications for the responses made by the interviewee. The most common interviewing techniques are:
• Personal Interviewing: Often referred to as face-to-face interviewing, personal interviewing requires the respondent to be present in person to give his or her opinions.
• Phone interviewing: The interview here is done over the telephone. It’s ideal where short descriptions are required.
With the right survey research training, it’s easier to know what technique suits your survey goal. There are so many opportunities online that you can take up to get the training.