Nutrition profile

Use surveys to collect input directly from respondents, such as their attitudes, opinions, and self-reported behaviors.

Cooking time

Preparation: ~5 minutes per question

Data collection: 1-20 minutes per participant

Analysis: 1-30 minutes per question

You can create and conduct lightweight, simple surveys in a short amount of time (a few hours or days). More in-depth surveys will take longer to develop. Expect the analysis of the results to take the longest amount of time.

Perfect for

Learning what lots of people think about a topic. You can gather preferences, opinions, reactions, and stories from a large amount of participants in a short amount of time. Surveys are generally web-based, remote, and unmoderated, meaning respondents can complete them on their own time.

While surveys can be used to gather quantitative or qualitative data, they tend to work best for quantitative data. This is because you can gather "big" but not "thick" data.

Prep work

Determine the purpose of the survey. Surveys are best at telling you what people think and say (attitudinal data) rather than what people actually do (behavioral data). But you can collect self-reported behaviors or anticipated behaviors, too, as quantitative behavioral data might be difficult to obtain with other methods. For example, you might survey people to ask if they attended an exhibit in the past year or if they plan to travel over spring break.

Clearly articulate your research question(s) to validate that a survey is the best tool to answer that question. What are you trying to learn? Who are you trying to learn from?

Each survey should have a clear, singular focus. And you should have a plan for how you will analyze and act upon the data from each and every question you are asking.

Good examples of research questions:

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