Audience Dialogue

Choosing a research method

Whether to do a survey

Do a survey if most of these are true

Don't do a survey if most of these are true

If a survey is appropriate, read on to choose the best delivery method. If a survey is not appropriate, consider using a qualitative method, or response cultivation.

Choosing a survey method

Use personal interviews if most of these are true

Use telephone interviews if most of these are true

If several of those conditions don't apply, telephone interviewing is probably not a good idea.

Use observation when these are true

Observation is often done in conjunction with a normal survey. For example, in a face to face survey, the interviewer will observe the respondent's sex, rather than asking. And when respondents are being interviewed at home, a trained interviewer, though observation, is the best placed person to answer questions such as which short-wave bands are available on radios in the home.

Do a mail survey if most of these are true

A forbidding list, isn't it? You'd be wasting your time trying to do a mail survey, unless nearly all of those conditions apply.

Do an in-publication survey if most of these are true

Do an on-the-spot survey (visitor survey or workshop) if one of these is true

Do an internet survey if most of these are true Most of the time, it's not a good idea to do an internet survey among the general public. The main exception is when you're researching the audience of a specific website.

Use mixed methods when appropriate - for example...

When you want people to keep a diary of their activities, seek agreement first by telephone, then send questionnaires by mail. (Because some personal contact will increase the response rate - and a low response rate is the main problem with mail surveys.)

Choosing a qualitative method

Do a set of consensus groups if most of these are true

Do in-depth interviewing if most of these are true

Use response cultivation if most of these are true