by Janet Waters (revised 2017)
Choose a topic for your survey. Before you begin drafting your questions, do your literature review of past research on the topic (in a relevant textbook and/or research journal articles). The first thing you must do is to determine the research question - what is it you wish to know? Keep your topic in mind and make sure all your questions are relevant to it.
Research Ethics for Survey Research: As with all research methods, make sure your research proposal has been approved by your instructor or supervisor before conducting your experiment. Your research proposal must include your survey questions, how you plan to gather data on your participants, and a copy of your consent form. Always ensure your participants see the consent form before they fill out the survey, and ensure their anonymity and confidentiality is protected in your research process.
Guidelines for Drafting the Survey: Some guidelines for drafting the questions on your survey:
Construction of the survey: Make sure your survey is typed, has no embarrassing spelling or grammatical errors, and is laid out in a way that is clear & easy to read.
Pretest your survey: After you've constructed a draft of the questionnaire, pretest the survey with a willing "confederate", & ask for his/her feedback about their understanding of the questions, response alternatives, etc. Ask them to "think aloud" while answering the questions, & ask them how they interpreted each question & the list of possible answers.
Try not to subtly bias the respondent's answers in phrasing your questions, by inadvertently showing approval or disapproval of certain answers, or by hinting in any way at the answer you are expecting. If you survey your subjects individually or in several small groups, make sure you introduce and explain the survey the same way each time you give it out.
Once you have your completed surveys, you will have to make some sense of your data, and present your results in the Results section of your report. Depending on your response alternatives, you could total the answers & present the totals for each answer as a frequency or a percentage in a table form, or code and compile the open-ended answers. If you have interval scales (a scale from 1 to 7, for example), you can compute means & standard deviations (easy using Excel), and present these in a numerical form & in a graph or table. You may even be able to do correlations between pairs of numerical variables (with Excel).
The standard APA style lab report can be used to present your survey. In the Introduction, briefly review past research and theory in your topic question (e.g. briefly summarize current research on stress). Use APA referencing style to cite your sources. In the Method section, under Participants, present a general description of the participants (Mean age, gender, sample source, etc). In the Materials section, describe your survey. Include a copy of the actual survey in an Appendix of the report, and refer the reader to the Appendix in the Materials section. In the Procedure section, note your general research strategy was a survey, and describe your methods of data collection (e.g. in person vs telephone or on-line survey, etc.).
In the Results section of the report, present your Results as noted above. Use a table if possible, and add a verbal description of your results. Generally, avoid interpretation of your findings case in the Results section. Simply present the findings here; discussion of them occurs in the Discussion section.
Finally, in the Discussion section, you should integrate your findings to theory and past research findings in your topic. Relate your survey findings to what you have learned from the text or other sources about that topic. For example, you could compare your participants' reports about the causes and effects of stress to what research in the text found. If your findings contradict current research or theory, or if you observed something unusual or unexpected, you could suggest reasons why your observations may differ from the expected findings.
@Janet Waters (2017)
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