How to Improve Your Data Quality

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Posted May 31, 2018

More often than not, survey creators will focus on the quantity of responses rather than the quality of the response. The notion stems from the assumption that more responses result in more accurate conclusions. However, this concept is not necessarily true. Focusing on quality data should be the foundation for any market research project. Collecting bad data can lead to bad business decisions, so it is essential to understand a few best practices that will improve the quality of your research.

Be Conscious of Respondent Fatigue

There are statistics that state that an adult human’s attention span lasts 8 seconds, that is less than the nine-second attention span of your average goldfish. In a world of smartphones, numerous social media platforms, and hyperlinks in the middle of everything you read, it can be difficult to stay focused. Designing a survey that orders questions properly and reduces respondent fatigue will play a vital role in quality data. Ask the harder questions at the beginning of the survey, and limit open-ended questions, which require more effort to answer. Make sure each question is designed to get you relevant information, so you’re not wasting your respondents’ time.

Set Clear Objectives

Before conducting a survey, establish a clear objective. It is important to have a clear understanding of how the survey data will be used. Defining survey objectives at the beginning of your market research plan can serve as a guide throughout the entire survey process. Well-defined objectives can help ensure that the appropriate questions are asked to the right target audience, make certain that your clients are satisfied with the overall outcomes of the survey, and more importantly, aid in the accuracy and validity of the data.

Provide an Opt Out

Surveys are used to learn thoughts and preferences of target groups on various products or services. Within each survey, there are different questions and answer options included that may not apply to every respondent. Because of this, the opt out option is considered an important feature of surveys. Too often inaccurate answers to a survey question are provided because the question doesn’t apply to the respondents. Giving respondents an option to choose “not applicable”, “other”, or “prefer not to answer”, will allow you to control the overall quality of your data.

Make Your Survey User-Friendly

By making survey accessible both online and via mobile devices, the respondent rate increases immensely. It would be helpful to envision yourself as a respondent and think about what would help you easily complete a survey. It’s critical to ensure that respondents have enough space to easily read and answer your questions, keeping questions comprehensible and making answer options effortlessly selectable will create a better user experience for the respondent.    

Avoid Bias

Question bias, or a leading question, is one that influences an individual to provide a particular or guided response. It is the survey designer’s responsibility to remain neutral and avoid authoring questions that lead or confuse the respondent. Typically survey designers will unintentionally create biased questions due to their own lack of knowledge in a topic or inexperience of another person’s perspective on that subject. To help elude such bias, it is crucial to remain impartial in all questions no matter how extreme the topic.

The Takeaway

There’s nothing more discouraging when conducting research than discovering that the data collected is inaccurate or not what was expected. Utilizing these tips will help improve your data quality in ways that will increase the reliability of insights and reduce any potential costs or lost time associated with re-fielding. Luckily, when it comes to survey data there are many strategies that can be applied your research that will evade poor data quality.

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