- Survey research is one of the most common forms of research.
- Survey research generally involves asking people about a topic,
although some surveys may be based on existing data sources.
- A clear research question and specific objectives help guide
the design of a survey and questionnaire.
- Survey topics may need to be investigated with focus groups
in order to know the specific issues that are important to study.
- Survey methods are determined by the research question. They
include interviews and self-administered questionnaires using the
mail or telephone. They may be web-based, or given in person.
- The most appropriate types of questions and response scales
should be selected, and questions should be free from bias.
- Questions that have a predetermined list of possible responses
are easier to analyze than open-ended questions.
- The choice of scale (nominal, ordinal, numerical) has ramifications
for ways in which the results can be analyzed.
- Answers need to be balanced with equal numbers of positive
and negative response options.
- In general, responses should be specific and avoid vague adjectives.
- Response categories need to be homogeneous and mutually exclusive.
- Potentially objectionable questions can sometimes be softened
so they are more acceptable to the subject.
- Questions permitting subjects to select as many options as
they choose can present challenges at the time of analysis.
- People often find ranking scales difficult if more than three
choices are to be ranked.
- Likert scales are popular and easy for respondents to understand.
- Reliability indicates whether the results from a test or questionnaire
- Validity indicates whether a test or questionnaire is measuring
what it is intended to measure.
- Pilot testing is essential and need not use a large sample.
- A high response rate provides more confidence in the findings.
- Effective follow-up is the most important way to increase
- A well-crafted cover letter should accompany all questionnaires.
- Incentives, both monetary and nonmonetary, appear to have
a large effect on response rates.
- Ethical considerations and institutional review boards require
that respondents be assured that their responses will be kept confidential.
- Appropriate sampling methods lead to more valid studies so
long as the type of respondent is pertinent to the research question.
- Determining the required number of subjects is part of the
survey design process.
- Survey results are analyzed using the methods previously discussed
in this book.
Fellowship and residency program directors may want to know which
attributes of their program attract applicants. It can be difficult
for applicants to choose among programs, and certain factors are
more important to some applicants than others. Program directors
want to highlight the features of their program that are attractive
to the kinds of applicants they would like to have. Caiola and Litaker
(2000) wanted to learn more about the factors that appeal to internal
medicine residents when choosing a fellowship in general internal
medicine (GIM). A group of faculty at their institution developed
a 36-item questionnaire to learn how the interview ...