Survey Design

The most appropriate design for your project hinges on a number of factors, but especially on the purposes of the study:

  • Is it formative, or summative?
  • Is it to be a snapshot in time, an examination of how things change over time, or how individuals change over time?
  • What topics must be covered?
  • What questions can be asked that measure each topic?
  • What kinds of questions will work best?
  • How should the topics and questions be organized?
  • By what method should they be administered?
  • What sampling design will work best to address the study's goals?
  • How can a sample be produced that best represents the population within budget constraints?
  • How can you maximize cooperation by the intended respondents?

A critical first step in this process is understanding what you really want to know as a result of the survey. An initial consultation of up to one hour is provided at no charge to become familiar with what you want to accomplish so we can together see how HSRC can help you. The assistance could include focus groups1, cognitive interview testing2, pretesting, questionnaire design3.

For more information, contact Dr.Hembroff at

1 Focus Groups: HSRC can design, conduct, and generate reports on focus groups and develop moderator's script and probes.

2 Cognitive Interview Testing: Cognitive interviewing is a technique for uncovering how individuals hear and understand questions and think about how to answer those questions. Cognitive interviewing is especially useful when developing new questions in a survey to ensure that respondents understand the question the researcher intended them to answer.

3 Questionnaire/Instrument Design: Using research-based best practice guidelines, HSRC can assist in the design and formatting of mail questionnaires, web surveys, telephone interviews, focus group scripts, advance letters, cover letters, follow-up letters, and reminders for effective contact with prospective respondents. HSRC follows research-based best practice guidelines and more than 30 years of direct experience to guide our approach.