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5 Tips For Researchers To Improve Their Survey Quality

5 Tips For Researchers To Improve Their Survey Quality
Máire McCarron
By: Máire McCarron
Updated: February 04, 2022 17:53
Posted: 12 Oct 2020 at 12:00

Table of Contents


There’s nothing more deterring in research than finding out the data you’ve gathered is inaccurate or not what you expected. High quality data not only needs to be accurate and trustworthy, but also relevant i.e. data can be reliable but still not mean anything to a business. Improving data quality increases the reliability of insights, reduces the cost of re-fielding and saves on potential time lost in an industry already plagued by slow, expensive research processes. Luckily for market researchers, when it comes to survey data, there are many simple tactics we can incorporate into the process to avoid poor data quality. Below are five tips that researchers can incorporate to improve panel/response quality.

Advice for Researchers

Internal Experience Testing

As a researcher, it is imperative that you take every online survey that you launch. This isn’t just limited to you, have your team take them as well and even, someone not associated with the study or even market research test it as well.  You’ll be amazed at what you find and what you miss when you only script the survey! This is essential for ensuring there is appropriate language used, a greater chance of ensuring objectivity and avoiding trivial mistakes in survey design. The ‘online survey playbook’ needs to be rewritten, and researchers need to be proactive in their survey testing process rather than relying on a reactive strategy where preventable mistakes accelerate the loss of time, money and quality. It’s always better to take the time to test the survey yourself than realise the mistake when it’s too late. 

Leverage Technology

Use technology to assist you in your research. Programming companies have done a great job at implementing techniques to help with the data quality process. They can identify/flag speeders, avoid straight lining, stop duplicate respondents and summarize data quality questions. Become familiar with them and leverage them to their full potential. However, as technology integrates itself more and more into the day-to-day tasks of market research, it’s easy for researchers to feel they are no longer needed in certain areas — this can be fatal to data quality. While technology parameters can help filter through some of the muck, humans are still necessary in order to set the level of quality in data. Similar to many other industries embracing change, technology is there to empower industry experts, not replace them.

Demand Transparency

Know where your sample is coming from and demand transparency. Most sample providers are transparent and will answer any query, but you have to ask the question to get the answer. Here are some good questions that you can ask: 

  • How do they recruit? 
  • How does the survey get to the respondent? 
  • Are they ever routed? 
  • Do you pre-screen? 

These are just a few questions you should understand about respondents to your survey. As mentioned in previous blogs, it is the responsibility of the researcher to demand the greatest level of quality possible from panel providers. More importantly, it is essential that researchers communicate to clients on the need to pay for proven quality to incentivise transparency and investment across panel suppliers.

Survey Feedback & Satisfaction

It amazes me how researchers, who by their very nature are hardwired to capture insight on how to improve, neglect ‘taking their own advice’. The simple process of asking each respondent for feedback on survey quality, design, length and satisfaction is a sure fire way to boost engagement. Start to incorporate trial runs into your go-to-field strategy in order to obtain a survey satisfaction score that you can benchmark against past and future surveys This can be used to relay back to the client to show them how you’re improving, or to use in-house as a quality screening tool.

Review, Reflect & Improve

Don’t remove yourself from the quality assurance role. Regardless of where you are in the market research process, make sure you understand the quality steps throughout the entire process and ensure there are no gaps. With engagement, transparency and quality at an all-time low in the market research industry, the onus is on researchers to review, reflect and improve across every facet of their business. In no other industry is mediocrity settled for, legacy relationships relied on and outdated processes implemented to such a large extent. As innovators, it is our goal to demand improved quality and investment to drive the industry forward – this can be as simple as incorporating these five tips with rigorous enforcement across your market research company.


Having the right panelists is one of the most crucial aspects of online surveys, right next to the survey design itself, because the quality of your market research study depends on your source of information. You will need to do your part in learning more about panel providers to get the perfect fit. One good way to study them is by checking their ESOMAR28, which is a document that profiles panel providers through 28 questions. Read more about them so you can learn how they manage their panels and ensure the quality of their data.

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