Methods Of Administering a Survey
A survey may be administered through a face-to-face interview, by post or by telephone. Generally, if given to employees within an organisation, it might involve self-completion. Factors which will influence the choice of method include the following:
¨ The nature of the sample - is it large or small, local or dispersed, young or old, literate or illiterate?
¨ The nature of the information required - is it sensitive or likely to offend some people, will it be extremely dull to the respondents?
¨ The nature of the issues under investigation - are they complex or likely to raise concerns about confidentiality?
¨ The length and complexity of the survey - will it sustain the interest of respondents long enough to complete it without direct prompting?
¨ Resource constraints - is speed of response or cost a crucial factor?
Postal or self-completion surveys
The main advantage of postal surveys is that they are relatively cheap and easy to administer, but the response rate can be extremely low. The chances of obtaining a higher response can be enhanced by enclosing an individual covering letter and stamped addressed envelope, and setting a deadline for replies. Non-responses can be followed up by a reminder letter or telephone call.
These are the quickest to complete and can combine the advantages of both interviews and postal surveys, but depending upon the nature of the survey, you may not find it is possible to contact all your target population by telephone.