How to Create a Good Survey

A survey allows organisations to collect data for analysis, coming up with conclusions based on the studied criteria. Such a research component is necessary to investigate the relationships between different elements and constructs. Make no mistake, the creation of a survey requires time, planning, research and good execution. Without these it becomes a research attempt which is lacking. So how does one create a good survey?


Determine the objectives of your survey before you even think about drafting it. Having the research question clearly in mind is necessary to create the survey items which will address your underlying objectives.


Once you have your objectives in hand, you can then perform some research to check out any similar surveys which may have been created. Using these as reference can help you to develop different perspectives and determine good questions to ask. You will also get an idea of the format and length, and perhaps adopt some of the techniques used in previous surveys.

Intended audience

One crucial element to address is to whom your survey is intended for. Who will be answering it? Are you seeking a specific demographic? Would it be more ideal to distribute amongst a young age group or older one? These are all questions that need to be addressed based on the constructs being investigated and the objectives. One must also aim for a number of respondents. Good research requires a certain amount of survey respondents to reduce the margin of error. Considering that statistics will be gathered, a higher number of respondents will reduce the statistical margin of error, contributing to further accuracy.

Answer format

If your intended way to communicate results is via descriptive statistics such as percentages and averages, you would do well to include answer formats with ratings and Yes/No answers. These are typically referred to as close-ended questions which only allow for one type of answer. If you would like to include open-ended questions, you can do so, however these will be analysed individually and it would be impractical to determine figures based on them.


You will also need to determine how your survey will be distributed to your intended audience, to achieve high response rates. Should this be done via physical distribution? Or more conveniently via an online link? Both have their advantages. Giving a physical survey to someone and waiting for him to fill it in will most likely increase response rates. On the other hand, an online link is more convenient, however people may be inclined to skip it.

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