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Exploring online research methods - Incorporating TRI-ORM

Using software for online questionnaire production

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The interface and features of different online questionnaire software may vary. However, a typical procedure for creating and administering a questionnaire is shown below. At each stage, screenshots taken from different examples of software are provided to give an indication of how they tend to be used.

Open/close headingCreate the questionnaire

  1. Create a new page by adding a title, selecting formatting options and adding any logos required. (Alternatively, copy a previous survey to amend or choose a template from a list of options).
    The survey editing interface of the SurveyMonkey.com service
    The survey editing interface of the [External Link - opens in a new window] SurveyMonkey.com service
  2. Add a question by selecting from a list of question types.
    The phpSurveyor interface allowing users to choose a question type
    The phpSurveyor question creation interface (now Lime surveys
  3. Input the question and responses. Select options such as whether an answer is required, whether the order of responses should be randomised etc.
    The questionPro.com service question editing interface, which allows the user to insert the text for the question and answer choices, and to make decisions over design and layout.
    The [External Link - opens in a new window] questionPro.com question editing interface
  4. Add any images, extra text or line breaks as required.
  5. Add further questions on the same page or add further pages.


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Open/close headingEdit the questionnaire settings

Many software plus hosting services offer a number of questionnaire settings options which allow the user to incorporate features such as the following:

  1. Visual appearance or layout options such as customised headers, footers and images.
  2. The inclusion of skip patterns if required, so that the participant is directed to alternative questions depending on responses to particular questions.
  3. Customisation of button text, and choice over whether or not a respondent is given the option to navigate back to completed sections
  4. Inclusion of multimedia stimuli.
  5. Randomisation of the order of questions or responses within questions.
  6. The addition of cookies to the participant's computer to prevent multiple submission from the same machine.
  7. The option to automatically link to a particular web page on completion of the questionnaire, or to add a completion message.
  8. The ability to enter a closing date for the questionnaire and to add a customisable message to those who attempt to access the closed survey.
  9. The option of emailing the results to the researcher alongside saving them to the database.
  10. Password protection for the survey.
  11. The inclusion and placement of a progress bar.

The following is a screenshot showing some of the options provided by 'SurveyZ!'

The surveyz.com questionnaire settings page (named 'survey controls')
Extract from the [External Link - opens in a new window] surveyz.com questionnaire settings page (named 'survey controls').


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Open/close headingSelect the distribution options

Depending on your method of recruitment, many of the services allow you to easily choose and implement distribution options.


  1. Insert or import the email addresses of your sample group.
  2. Select the whole list or a subgroup of the list to send a message to.
    The email management interface of the SurveyMonkey.com service
    The email management interface of the [External Link - opens in a new window] SurveyMonkey.com service
  3. Add the message, incorporating the link to your questionnaire and, where available, include fields to allow you to personalise the emails by merging individual information into a standard email.

Other options:

  1. Copy the link to the questionnaire into a website (perhaps with the added functionality of recording which of several links was selected by the participant).
    The links facility available at Surveyz.com
    The website link facility available at [External Link - opens in a new window] Surveyz.com
  2. Alternatively, copy the necessary HTML and code into your website to activate a pop-up version of the questionnaire when a user enters the site.
    The popup survey facility available at SurveyConsole.com
    The popup survey facility available at [External Link - opens in a new window] SurveyConsole.com


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Open/close headingCollect and analyse the results

Many software plus hosting services offer the opportunity to download results or to analyse results online through the package.

Downloading results

  1. Select from options allowing you to choose the type of data file to download (e.g. 'Comma-separated values' files allowing easy import into packages such as Microsoft Excel, HTML files, or SPSS Syntax files)
  2. Choose whether you would like to include all data in the download, or only data from a particular period.
  3. Decide on the format you would like to download the data in (e.g. whether all the data from an individual user should appear on one row, or whether multiple selections should appear on their own rows).
  4. Select the extra information you would like to include in the data files (e.g. IP addresses and start and completion times).
    The SelectSurveyASP data export page.
    Extract from the [External Link - opens in a new window] SelectSurveyASP data export page
  5. Press the export or download button and save the file to a suitable location.
  6. Open the file in your statistical analysis package.

Analysing results

Many service providers offer analysis facilities such as the following:

  1. The ability to view individual results and overall results on an on-going basis.
  2. Different viewing options (e.g. as percentages or in the form of various charts).
  3. Basic statistics such as mean and standard deviation.
  4. The chance to delete or edit results.
  5. Cross-tabulation of results so that correlations between particular questions can be seen side-by-side and analysed.
  6. Filtering options so that results can be analysed according to the response to particular questions (e.g. focusing on gender or age).

The following is a screenshot showing some of the options provided by 'ServeyZ!'

The surveyz.com options for viewing and exporting results.)
Extract from the [External Link - opens in a new window] surveyz.com 'view results' page.

Software designed primarily for statistical analysis, but with online questionnaire capabilities also tends to offer more options such as multivariate statistical techniques or lexical analysis.


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