Evidence-based policymaking requires robust databases that help policymakers approach welfare empirically and logically. Analyzing the data collection process will show just how important survey questions become. While we understand that forming precise and succinct questionnaires may seem like the only key to getting reliable data, other factors affect respondents’ answers and how they react to the interviewer.
For an interviewee to be comfortable and amenable to giving responses, their time and space need to be respected. Interviewers should visit/call to set up an appointment in advance, ensuring the respondent’s availability to participate in the survey.
The survey tools must be customized according to the language most accessible to the respondent. The interviewer must also communicate with the respondent in the said language, making the communication process easier and more effective.
In the case of shorter surveys, the questionnaire must not exceed 15-20 pages and must be presented as clearly as possible. In the case of longer questionnaires, breaks and pauses must be incorporated within the survey to avoid getting fatigued responses which can affect the reliability of the data.
By communicating the purpose of the study effectively and making the respondent as comfortable as possible, the interviewer creates a trustworthy space and makes the respondent part of the process.
It is possible for researchers to lose objectivity and present questions in a way that might not be clear to the respondent, thereby affecting the quality of the data. Therefore, questions must be created from the lens of the respondent in easy, effective, and accessible ways.
Since data collected from surveys can be used to formulate welfare schemes for many communities, communicating the purpose of the study can be used as an incentive to invite active participation in the survey, making the respondent a part of something bigger and more meaningful!
Aishwarya Bhatia, Sambodhi