Surveys are a great tool to collect data but they are not appropriate for all communities or target groups. Below are a list of key questions to consider before implementing a survey:

  • Do you have the time and resources to design, implement and report on a survey?

  • Will a survey meet your evaluation objectives?

  • Does data already exist?

  • Will a survey engage your target group? A survey will not engage or reach some populations.

  • What is the risk of 'survey fatigue' for the target group you are seeking information from?

  • Will participation in a survey be incentivised?

Writing a survey

While designing a survey seems simple, survey design is not always as straightforward as it seems. How you design your surveys can affect the validity of the findings and impact the level of engagement (and therefore number of respondents) to your survey.

A good survey has a clearly stated purpose, explains how the information collected will be used, has a logical flow and only asks necessary, relevant questions. Survey questions should be directly related to the objectives of your PVAW work or directly related to course content. This resource from Ohio Domestic Violence Network outlines some useful tips for Taming the Survey Beast when designing surveys on a shoestring budget.

Ideally, gather your survey data in a way that the respondent's gender can be linked to the information they provide while still maintaining confidentiality for the respondents.

Key survey traps

When designing surveys make sure you avoid these common pitfalls:

  • Unclear outline of survey sections and contents

  • Vague or confusing wording

  • Double-barreled questions (e.g. Has this program and training improved your knowledge of and commitment to preventing violence against women?)

  • Inconsistent matrix formats (e.g. One question has Strongly Agree --> Strongly Disagree while another question has these scales in the reverse order)

  • Response categories overlap or not mutually exclusive

  • Not being able to link outcomes for different gender identities.