Survey Research Briefs – Writing a Research Brief for a Successful Survey

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A great research brief begins with clear objectives and is an essential first step in any survey.  A well thought out plan will enable you to prioritize your objective and to develop the right questions to gain the information you need for your market research.

The first step in developing your brief would be to answer these questions:

  • What are you trying to learn from your survey research and why do you need this information?
  • Who can give you the information and how will you get it from them?

Once you answer these questions, you’re off to a great start.  These clearly defined research objectives help to determine the information that is required and develop the questions to ask.   Clear and precise objectives for your survey will ensure a good questionnaire. 

Example of an objective that is too vague in a customer satisfaction survey:

“Are customers satisfied with our products and services?”

Example of an objective in a customer satisfaction survey that is specific and well defined:

“To measure the level of customer satisfaction during the first quarter of 2011, with our PC repair service Division, on a five point scale, broken down by gender, and age.  To identify additional services required by gender and age.”

Good survey research objectives can be defined by the acronym “SMART”

“S” Specific -Clear and specific statement on what is to be measured.  Example:  Hold time for incoming calls to our service department.

“MMeasureable- Use a method and scale of measurement that can accurately capture the information you require.  Example:  On a scale of 1-5 (5 being excellent) was your call handled quickly?

“A” Accurate– Can you accurately capture the information you require with the measurement and method you selected? 

“R” Realistic– Is it realistic to assume the respondents can give you the information you require?

“T” Time– There is a start and end point to your survey. 

Additional objectives that may be relevant to your research:

  • Is it location based?  Did the customers in Hartford have a better experience than the customers in New Haven?
  • Is it gender based and/or age based?  Did 18-25 year old females have a better experience than 45 to 60 year old males?

These specific and well thought out questions will help you and your firm to build better survey tools, and give you the insight you need to make clear and concise decisions as a result of the survey outcome.

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