Quick Tips for Creating Useful Surveys

Even if you are just doing a quick survey for a class assignment, remember GIGO (garbage in, garbage out)! If you don't create an appropriate survey, your results are not credible. So, please take a moment to read the following, use the template, and, if you have never done survey research before, look over at least one of the sources below. This should help you create a better survey and, thus, provide more credible results.

Communication Department


1. Let your participants know what you will do with their responses. We suggest something like the following:

My name is (your name), and I am conducting research for an assignment in (course name) at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW).  My instructor for this course is   (instructor’s name).  Your participation in this survey is optional.  Your identity will be anonymous, and your responses will only be used in the above stated course. 

If you have any questions/concerns about the nature of this research and/or about this survey, my instructor may be reached via email at (instructor’s email)

Thank you.

Click here to download a Word version of this that you may adapt to your needs.


2. Pay attention to how you order and word your questions

a. Keep it short and simple - only ask questions that directly answer your research question

b. Be sure you are only asking one question at a time

c. Be sure each question/statement is grammatically correct

d. Keep response categories consistent whenever possible

e. Used closed questions whenever possible

Quick tips for designing a survey

More indepth information about writing questions and layout of the survey

Focusing on writing good questions

More general tips about question order and layout

3. Now you've gathered the data, present it well

a. Be sure to talk about how you gathered your data: who did you sample, how did you ask them (face to face, Facebook, email, phone etc.), how many, demographic breakdown (ages, sex, any other relevant demographic information)

b. Describe the survey - do not read it to them, i.e., "I asked questions about stereotypes about feminism such as 'I think a feminist may be a man or a woman.' and 'When I hear the word “feminists” I picture masculine women burning their bras.'"

c. Summarize the results - do not give results for every question (see charts below)

d. Draw conclusions to clearly answer your research question, i.e., "Do IPFW students stereotype feminists?  Yes, IPFW students stereotype feminists. I know this because . . ."

Consider a chart - visual representations are almost always easier to understand and more interesting


Sample survey assignment