Overview of the Survey Process

The industrial revolution has given way to the information age. We are no longer an "industrial society" but rather an "information society." We require prompt and accurate flow of information on preferences, needs, and behavior. Surveys become a critical solution in response to this need for information.

This website contains pages on survey development, administration, analysis, vendors, software, and web resources.

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Surveys may be conducted for a number of different purposes including:
  1. Classification (Training Needs)
  2. To Obtain Factual Information (e.g., Average Salary of Secretaries)
  3. Provide Data used as Basis for Decisions
  4. Seek Other's Input
  5. Promote Self-understanding (feedback)


Several methods exist including:
  1. Direct observation Where the survey administrator or analyst observes the survey participants to obtain first-hand knowledge of the behavior being observed. This type of data collection may occur in Job Analysis where the analyst is interested in collecting job data (surveying the job) through direct observation of the incument at work.
  2. In-person interview Where a survey administrator or analyst conducts an interview of the participant to collect answers to relevant questions. This technique is used in employee selection in the form of interviews. This method is also useful as a follow-up for non-respondents to a printed questionnaire where non-resondents are contacted directly for a response.
  3. Telephone interview Is often the preferred method when a survey must be conducted of a diverse population of thousands or more members. Should not be used if the survey is long or complicated.
  4. Printed questionnaire Is an inexpensive method of collecting data from hundreds or thousands of participants. However, since there is little interaction between survey participant and survey administrator, the administrator must track the progress of participants.
  5. Web-based questionnaire Is the least expensive. But, as with the printed questionnaire, requires the administrator must track the progress of participants.

Conducting a Survey?

Make sure you have met the following critical success factors.
  1. Valid objectives The objectives of a survey should be as specific, clear-cut, and unambiguous as possible. Linked to organizational systems, goals, and culture.Deceptive surveying practices that misrepresent the true purpose of the survey should be avoided.
  2. Clear definition of the survey population. If possible, the survey population should be uniform or have a uniform shared characteristic. For example, you may want to survey all Public Relations firms within a single metropolitan area.
  3. adequate response Non-response bias is a source of survey error as non-respondents may differ from respondents. Anonymity precludes follow-up efforts to assure responsiveness, so if possible only confidentiality should be promised. Acceptable response rates vary depending on the survey method and target population, but higher rates are generally better.
  4. Confidentiality is an important aspect of all survey methods. Techniques to ensure confidentiality?
  5. Use appropriate measures As obvious as it may seem, in a satisfaction survey questions should ask about satisfaction. Such direct questions, however, will often be the most threatening to the agency being evaluated. Where appropriate, scales provide more information than yes/no responses. Avoid measures which allow evaluation of individual employees.
  6. Clarity Instructions and question wording needs to be clear. The purpose should be clearly stated. Response categories should be consistent and match the form of the question.

Related Pages This site.

Web Technology.

Links to Vendors and Associations.

What is a 'Survey'.