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Survey Design: Start Here

This guide is for librarians interested in conducting research or assessment through surveys.

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Kevin Walker's picture
Kevin Walker
Kevin W. Walker, Ph.D.
Head of Assessment & Govt. Information

The University of Alabama Libraries
Box 870266
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0266
Subjects:Data Services

Survey Design Basics

1. Identify your research questions. 

  • What do you want to find out? 
  • Why is it important to investigate?
  • You should only have a few questions per project. 

2. Identify the population of interest.

  • What group or groups are you interested in?
  • What demographic groups may have differences within your population?
  • How will you reach your participants?

3. Identify the variables in your research.

  • What background information do you have?
  • Its useful to create a concept map to show relationships.

4. Create an instrument for data collection.

  • Include an introduction for participants
  • Avoid asking about multiple concepts in one question
  • Avoid leading questions
  • Do not overlap options
  • Response (Likert) scales should be balanced
  • Provide a neutral option
  • Include limited open ended questions
  • Thank the respondent and provide contact information

5. Test your survey instrument‚Äč

  • Do participants understand the questions?
  • How long does it take?