Survey Planning and Design
IAS can provide direct support (question writing, web programming, administration and analysis) for a limited number of surveys from University offices and departments. Please contact IAS for more information or to request survey support.
The 2015 SERU (Student Experience in the Research University) Survey results are here.
Individuals interested in conducting survey research need to consider a wide range of factors prior to and during the survey process. The page provides a simple checklist that may be helpful in the formulation and implementation of a survey project. IAS also provides a sample survey invitation letter.
Survey Planning and Design Checklist
This checklist highlights a number of questions and considerations that survey researchers commonly need to address throughout the survey process. This list is not exhaustive and individuals or organizations should tailor this list to their own needs. Tthis list is available in Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat formats.
the purpose of the survey as precisely as possible.
- Review previous surveys/data to determine whether a new survey
- Check with the Institutional Review Board to see if approval
- Formulate research questions and hypotheses—what is it
you want to learn by conducting the survey and what are your hypotheses?
- What is the survey population? (e.g., undergraduates, graduate
- Are oversamples of certain population subgroups necessary to
insure sufficient cases for analysis?
- Will incentives be offered to boost the response rate, e.g., lotteries,
cash, tokens? IAS recommends $1/respondent be spent on incentives.
- Create a rough draft of questions/subjects to be included in the
- Pretest the survey on a sample of potential respondents to test
questions and get feedback on question wording, order, etc.
- Revise the questionnaire draft according to the feedback from
- Draft an invitation to participate letter.
- If you are sending email invitations, set up and test the email invitation ahead of time using the mass email program of your choice. If you are sending hardcopy letters: print letters, stuff envelopes, sort, and mail, late in the week
if possible. The goal is to have respondents receive survey invitations early
in the week—Monday or Tuesday.
- Define the field period and adopt a tracking plan (when to send
reminders, and what type). IAS recommends tracking nonrespondents
and sending reminders to those who have not responded. At least
3 email reminders to nonrespondents are appropriate and sometimes
more are necessary.
- Clean and assess the quality of the data and tabulate results.
- Analyze the results, test hypotheses, and write reports.
- Publicize the results—if possible it is a good idea to give
respondents the option of seeing the results.