Creating Web-based Surveys

by Randall S. Davis

"Sharing ideas is what the Internet is all about!"

- Randall Davis


Purpose of Lesson:

How can the Internet be used to collect data for my research paper?

Contact people through email and egroups, as explained in the section on Interactive Communication, to collect data about your topic. Of course, you will use books and websites to find information about your topic, but the purpose of this website is to teach you how to use the Internet in different ways to accomplish this.

Using online surveys will allow you to reach a global audience beyond your city and country, thus allowing you to collect more information easily and quickly, with the potential of many results. Normally, you would have to interview people one-by-one within your own local area; online surveys give you the power to reach far beyond and gather information from many parts of the world.

Step ONE: Identify Your Purpose

You need to indentify exactly what the purpose of your research is and what questions will your paper try to answer for readers. If your paper is on relationships, perhaps you want to find out the average marriage for people in a particular country, or maybe you want to find out how people feel about cross-cultural marriages. You might be able to find such information in a book or website, but the results could be old or they might be limited to a particular group or number of participants in the survey.

Step TWO: Prepare Your Questions

You should come up with a few questions (4-8) that will seek to collect the information you want. One question will not be sufficient to generate any data; 50 questions will to be many for the nature of your paper, and potential visitors to your survey will be overwhelmed by the number and not even try your survey.

You should consider using both closed- (multiple-choice) and open-ended (fill-in) questions for your survey. Multiple-choice questions are easy to quantify (prepare statistics) while open-ended questions will allow you collect opinions and feelings on your particular topic.

Be careful not to use leading expressions or words that will influence your visitors comments ("I think English is the best language in the world. What do you think?")

You also might want to be able to identify respondents by their country, age, and gender.

Step THREE: Create Your Online Survey

There are a number of free services on the Internet that allow you to create surveys with little knowledge of html. One survey is CreateSurvey, and it will create code that you can easily add to your webpages. Take a look at one example HERE on Language Learning.

Step FOUR: Adding the Results to Your Homepage

Once you have your results, you should try to some of the information to your webpage to strengthen your research. Such information should include both an overview of the results and a basic interpretation of them. Here is how you do it:

According to a recent survey of 100 people on dating and marriage (Davis, 2001), 55% of men from North American, between the ages of 20 and 45, feel that honesty was the most important trait in selecting a partner. Seventy-two percent women believe, however, that honesty is the most crucial point is choosing a spouse. The results seem to indicate that women place a higher value on honesty, but it is unclear on how much this feelings vary within this group (e.g., 30-year-olds compared to 35 year-olds). A more detailed survey should provide a better picture of this.
Notice that the % symbol comes after numbers, except when the number begins a sentence.

Author of survey. (year). Title of survey. Retrieved month day, year, from the World Wide Web:

You can also save the graph that the program creates by editing it (Select Edit Page from the File menu in Netscape), edit the page and remove any unwanted data or text, saving the files (text and bar graphics) to your local disk by selecting Save As . . . in the File menu, and then uploading them to your site. You can then add the html code for the graphs to an existing page, or create a separate page for the results. The final product might look like this:

In your opinion, what is the most important skill in learning how to communicate with others?
speaking 7 (46.67%)
culture 3 (20.00%)
listening 2 (13.33%)
writing 2 (13.33%)
reading 1 (6.67%)
Japan 5 (33.33%)
Korea (South) 3 (20.00%)
Italy 2 (13.33%)
United States 2 (13.33%)
Algeria 1 (6.67%)
Argentina 1 (6.67%)
Tokelau 1 (6.67%)
Male 8 (53.33%)
Female 7 (46.67%)

Copyright 1998 - 2000 by Randall S. Davis, All rights reserved.