If you're reading this article then you have probably posted or are thinking of posting in our Student Surveys Forum. This is the home of all student research on TSR - if you post elsewhere asking people to complete your survey then your post will be moved into this forum.
A good survey will get more responses than a poorly designed survey - spelling mistakes, typos, unanswerable questions will all drive people out of your survey before they submit their answers.
There are a lot of guides online to survey best practice. Some good guides include:
- this short guide from LSE
- this starter guide from Imperial
- this chapter from OECD on good practice
- some guidance from SurveyMonkey
If your survey is for market research rather than rigorous academic research then the Market Research Society Guidance should help you.
One common mistake is to make questions compulsory - if your questions aren't applicable or are difficult for respondents to answer then they'll most likely tick any option to get to the next page making your results meaningless.
One thing to be careful of is your University's regulations on ethical research. Before you even start designing a survey check your university guidance on what ethics approval you need for conducting research with human participants (yes even an online survey is dealing with humans!) and follow it.
The penalties for not following your University's regulations can be extremely harsh - don't risk failing your module or being thrown off your course because you didn't follow best practice or get approval for your survey!
Finding your respondents
Targeting specific groups
If your survey is targeted at a specific subset of people (18-25 years olds, women, university students, students aiming at a specific career etc etc) then make that CLEAR in your thread title. If it isn't clear then hit the "Report Post" link in the top right of your first post and ask the Community Team to edit the thread title for you.
What to include in your first post
Your first post and thread title should have more information than just a link to your survey. The more you tell people the more likely they are to click your link (and not click back immediately). Standard information should include:
- Who you are and why you're running the survey (this doesn't need to be personal details but if you explain that you're a 3rd year student on an Economics course and this is your dissertation research, or that you're an A level student running a survey for your EPQ then you're suddenly not some anonymous nobody)
- Any restrictions on who should fill in your survey (or if you're looking for specific groups)
- HOW LONG IT SHOULD TAKE TO COMPLETE (warn people if they're committing to half an hour of answering your questions!)
- Any prize draws or incentives available
- The closing date for responses (don't waste people's time responding when you've already analysed your results!)
You get what you give
If you want people to respond to your survey then respond to theirs! You can either run through the recent threads in the Student Surveys Forum or you can try reading through recent posts and replying in The Survey Exchange Thread (stickied at the top of the forum).
If you're still struggling and you have a budget or funding available for your research then Prolific Academic is a site geared up to matching willing participants to surveys. However they insist on a minimum reward of £5ph for respondents and respondents are all required to have an education related email address (so if you're looking for respondents from outside education then it wont be suitable). If you enjoy filling out other people's surveys though it is gaining a good reputation.