Surveys and data collection can be a complicated and time-consuming project. There are several tricks however that you and your organization can learn in order to cut down on wasted time and to get the responses you are looking for. Doing research requires a lot of time and the one thing that you don’t want to have to do is go back to your mobile data collection device and reword your surveys because you did not optimize them. Accuracy and precision are ideal when trying to conduct a survey and when doing research. Structuring your questions wisely as well as writing questions that are simple and to the point are steps critical to successful data gathering.
One important decision that must be made throughout the survey and data collection processes is whether or not an open-ended question or a close-ended question best serves each question’s purpose. Depending on the way different questions and inquiries are phrased directly influences the data that you will receive from participants.
Take a look at the following example and the way in which the questions ask about commuting to work:
How long does it take for you to get to work each day?
It takes a long time for me to get to work each day.
1 = Definitely agree
2 = Agree
3 = Disagree
4 = Definitely disagree
Close-ended questions are used for quick encounters. Mail questionnaires and phone surveys are typically structured with close-ended questions. This type of survey is usually looking for data points and not necessarily digging extremely deep into a research topic with the questions. There is limited variability provided to the respondent due to the closed structure of the questions.
In addition to the above information, Keene State provides several advantages and disadvantages in regards to close-ended questions.
- Easy to code (for example: 1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = disagree, 4 = strongly disagree)
- Easy to enter – While it may not be an emergency to get the survey results entered into Microsoft Excel or any another program, when there are hundreds or thousands of survey participants, time spent with survey answers can add up very quickly. By using mobile data collection, your organization will significantly decrease its time commitment.
- Easy to analyze – With numerical responses or simply “Yes” or “No” responses, there is very little grey area left for interpretation.
- Easy to present – Using bar charts and pie graphs is a quick and easy way to represent data that is well structured.
- Quick turnaround – Using mobile data collection in order to integrate your data with an analyzing program in real-time is a fantastic way to collect and analyze surveys.
- Enhanced reliability
- Less researcher bias – Less researcher bias will allow increased focus on data collection.
- High degree of anonymity – With the close-ended questions, the participants are not able to share personal information that would differentiate them from other survey respondents.
- Harder to develop questions and response categories
- May force invalid responses
- Less depth and substance
- Researcher bias
- Respondents unable to explain, qualify, or clarify answer
Open-ended versus close-ended questions can play a large role in the data collection process as well as the type of data you collect. Begin using mobile data collection devices to improve both the survey responses and the reliability of the data collection.
Check out COMMANDmobile data collection and survey software to learn more about surveys and how you can optimize your research experience with mobile data collection devices.