Looks like a Survey Pilot’s last day today

Looks like a Survey Pilot’s last day today

Looks like a Survey Pilot’s last day today

Do a “dry run” with a few people before you spend time and money on a survey. This pilot survey will help you figure out the pros and cons of your survey design, including the instructions, structure, and questions, so that you can make sure you get the answers you need.

What does a pilot survey mean?

A pilot survey is a test questionnaire that lets you see if your questions will give you useful answers and how people will react to your survey design.

Pilot surveys can save you from having to do a second, more expensive survey because they are cheap, easy to do, and cost-effective. A few dozen people are usually enough for a pilot survey, but if your target group is small, you could use even fewer. Also, these respondents don’t have to be perfect examples of your target population. Depending on the type of pilot survey you’re doing, how the respondents respond to the survey may be more important than the answers they give.

Pilot surveys from the outside vs. the inside

In an external pilot study, your pilot questionnaire will be given to a small group of people who will not be part of your main study. For this kind of pilot survey, you can use convenience sampling to get feedback on your survey design from coworkers, friends, and other people who are easy to find. Researching outside of your company is a great way to test technical parts of your design, such as the layout and survey instructions.

Do a small internal pilot study before you start your big investigation. You can think of the people who fill out your survey as your first participants until the internal pilot survey shows that something is very wrong with it. The last step is to add the results to your main study. Because respondents are always chosen from your target group, an internal pilot survey is more realistic because it helps you figure out what kinds of answers you can expect from a larger group when you send out your survey.

Covert studies vs. studies in which people take part

In their important study on survey questions, Converse and Presser (1986) suggest a method called “respondent debriefing” for pilot surveys. This strategy uses the undeclared pilot survey method and uses a pilot questionnaire as the main survey. Tell the people who filled out the survey that they were part of a pilot study and then ask them follow-up questions like those in a participatory pilot survey.

How to Use What You Learned from Your Pilot Survey

Once your pilot study is done, you’ll be able to use what you learned to make a better survey. Using the answers to participatory questions, you can figure out what design and content problems stood out to respondents and fix them. When you look at the answers to your real survey questions, you can learn a lot about how people understand them. Examine your survey and make any changes you think are needed based on the results of your pilot survey. If you need to, run a second pilot survey to see if the problems have been fixed.


Sophia Amelia is the New York Times Bestselling Author. Writing stories to inspire young minds. Celebrating the power of words & imagination through my books. Join me on my journey to creating stories that will capture your imagination and captivate your heart.

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