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Use the following guidelines to assess survey suitability:
Step 1: Which organization conducted the survey?
- Does the organization have a reputation for producing quality research?
- Are they a private polling company or a government agency?
- Is the organization knowledgeable about the survey subject matter?
- What methods do they use to guarantee the quality of their survey?
- Who commissioned the survey and what influence did they have on the results?
Step 2: What is the survey methodology?
- How was the survey designed?
- What data collection method was used?
- Who was the target population?
- What was the sample size?
- What sampling techniques were used?
- What issues or questions were examined in this survey?
- Is there substantial documentation about the methodology of the survey?
- What is the rate of non-response?
- If the non-response rate is high, how have the researchers dealt with this issue?
Note: Survey user guides or codebooks are a particularly useful sources of information.
Step 3: How is the questionnaire designed?
- What types of questions were asked (open ended, etc.)?
- Were the questions problematic (ambiguous, double barreled, double negative, etc.)
- Were the questions biased (leading questions, etc.)?
- Were the answer categories biased (mutually exclusive, inapplicable, etc.)?
- How were the questions ordered?
- If the questionnaire was self-administered, how was it laid out?
Step 4: Does the data meet your requirements?
- Is the sample large enough for your research?
- Does the survey reach the population you are studying?
- How recent is the survey?
- Is the survey available in a machine-readable format?
- Does Data Services have the survey?