Using Survey Software to Analyze Your Answers V
Our previous discussion has covered a variety of ways you can present answers to multiple choice questions and questions that have numbers as the answers. Many surveys also ask for comments or other kinds of text answers. Sophisticated survey software helps you analyze them as well.
One way to analyze comments is to show the in a report. You should be able to have your program group the answers by demographics. For example, should be able to see all the comments given by women 18 to 24 grouped together, those given by men 18 to 24 grouped together, those given by women 25 to 34 or whatever breakdowns you wish. For example, if you’re asking about public transportation, you might want to see comments broken down by neighborhood, as well as age and gender.
Another way to analyze text answers is to see how many times words or phrases appear in the comments. The simplest kind of report showing how often words appear is just to create a word count. Your program should let you display the words in alphabetical order or frequency of mention order. You should also be able to tell it to ignore common words like “and,” “the,” “it” and so on, as well as words mentioned only one or a few times in order to produce a report showing a manageable number of words. Your tool should have the ability to use these words to code the comments, so that you can read the full comments containing the words of interest.
It should also let you give it a chosen list of words and/or phrases to be used as content codes that you can use to group similar answers together in reports, by themselves or in combination with demographics and also let you use these codes to create multiple choice tables quantifying how many people mentioned each idea or product.
Your tool should offer two ways of using a list of words or phrases you provide. It should be able to automatically go through the comments and assign codes based on finding the key words or phrases. You should be able to assign more than one word or phrase the same code. For example, if you ask people what they think of the selection of products in a store, you would probably want “big” and “large” to share the same code, as a big selection and a large selection are the same thing. Your tool should be able to accept approximate spellings, if respondents entered their own answers.
While having your program search for keywords and phrases is the easiest way to assign codes to comments, sometimes that method isn’t best. Sometimes you need to have people look at the comments and choose which codes are appropriate. This is particularly true when your codes represent complex ideas, rather than whether particular words we used. In these cases, your program should be able to show each comment separately above a code sheet and let a person choose the code of codes that represent the comment.
Sophisticated survey software helps you analyze your text answers in a variety of ways.