Mixed Mode Survey Tools
Most survey tools concentrate on one data collection mode, usually web surveys. There are some excellent reasons to give special consideration to a survey program that can help you with multiple data collection modes. The first is that using a tool that supports different data collection methods makes it easier for you to take on the widest variety of projects. You can’t do telephone surveys, if your software only supports web surveys.
The second reason to select a more flexible survey tool is that mixing modes on a single project can lead to better data. Research has shown that when it is important to gauge the opinions of a wide cross-section of society, collecting data using multiple modes can yield the most representative sample. For example, not everybody is connected to the Internet, and there are differences between the people who are connected and the ones who aren’t.
The Survey System makes it very easy to do mixed mode surveys. It supports web, telephone, off-line Android surveys and paper surveys using a single set of instructions. It also lets you contact people via phone and start a survey, and then let them choose one on their own.
If you do collect data using different methods for the same survey, you should record as part of the data which mode was used for each person. You can then compare the answers from different data collection modes. Depending on the questions you ask, and how you ask them, there may be significant differences in results depending on which mode was used. For example, people have a tendency to give socially desirable answers when talking to interviewers and to be more honest when filling out surveys on their own. There are other potential differences as well, but they are beyond the scope of this blog post. Despite these differences, the coverage advantage of using mixed modes sometimes makes using them a better choice.