Survey Writing and the Joys of Cloning

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Posted Nov 15, 2011

Dolly the sheep was born as the result of cloning in 1996. That medical event pushed the word “clone” to the front and center of public awareness and generated a lot of controversy along the way. Fifteen years later, we offer a different, less controversial kind of cloning that can be very useful for survey writing. This AYTM feature, known as survey cloning, will save you lots of time as you expand your use of online surveys.

survey cloning

Once you have created a survey design that you like, you can easily reuse it in whole or in part by using the cloning feature. You can literally copy an existing survey design, and then edit that clone, modifying the wording, answer options, even adding pictures and other custom elements. Or you can leave the existing survey completely as-is.Cloning can streamline the survey writing process, and can be very useful in several situations. Let’s look at a couple of real-world examples.

Example 1: Customer Satisfaction Research.

Imagine you have designed a nice, short customer satisfaction survey and you plan to collect feedback from a different subset of customers each quarter. By cloning your original customer satisfaction survey, you can re-field the same survey as needed. You will get data that you can compare, quarter-to-quarter, using the same exact questions and answer options. This wording and question order consistency is important to making sure that you can compare results; any differences in quarter-to-quarter results can not be blamed on a wording change or sequence modification. By using cloned surveys and being consistent, you will be a lot more confident that your data is accurate.

Example 2: Newsletter Readership Surveys.

Perhaps you plan to do a series of newsletter readership surveys over the course of a year. Your goal may be to learn what topics interest your readers and what types of content they find most valuable. In this case, you likely have a core set of questions that will stay the same in each survey. The standard questions might be:• Overall, how satisfied are you with our newsletter?• How satisfied are you with the topics we cover?• What topics would you like us to cover in future issues? (an open-ended question)You may also have some questions that allow survey takers to select from a continuum of responses: “How would you describe our newsletter”, followed by answer options such as “Very difficult to read” up to “Very easy to read.” Or maybe the scale goes from “Not at all visually appealing” up to “Very visually appealing.” You can also set up questions like this using AYTM “Sliders” question format with a custom scale.Cloning allows you to easily standardize on those questions you want to ask in each survey. But maybe you are trying out some new newsletter features that you want to get feedback on as well, and you may want to ask some specific questions about overall appeal of the new section, as well as specific attributes (length, style, use of images, and so on). The cloned survey can be modified as easily as a brand new survey—you can add the new questions as you see fit.

Time Savings and a Bonus Benefits for Survey Writing

Cloning saves you the time and aggravation of having to retype standard questions and all of their answer options. Just clone the survey, keep the parts you want to standardize on, and then edit other questions as needed.If your online survey designs are coordinated with colleagues, cloning has an extra benefit for you: fewer survey draft iterations. Once your team members have approved a survey, reusing those questions in the future will make for an easier survey writing process. The number of survey draft iterations you're going to go through with your colleagues will be fewer if parts of the survey have previously been approved.Whether or not you like the idea of cloning sheep, you have to admit: cloning surveys is a great way to save time.Photo Credit: Cute Clones from Flickr

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