When your collection of survey responses and analysis has been completed, you will want to report your findings to others. You may want to communicate the results to the survey participants in addition to those within your organization.
When you do, your findings should include a background of why you conducted the survey, a breakdown of the results, provide one or more conclusions and suggest recommendations. You will want to use these results to influence those who may make key decisions and put those decisions in to action using your inferences drawn from the survey results.
The DCA Survey software makes survey results readily accessible to others, if you chose to do so, directly from our website. Additionally, the responses and summarized results may be easily downloaded to a variety of applications including SPSS, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint. For the greatest impact on your report's presentation, you should include descriptive text in addition to including charts, graphs, and tables.
Before you start working on the details of your report, you need to explain the general background of your survey research. This will include details like why the survey was conducted. When your audience understands the context of the problem (or issue) and the clear objectives of the study, they will be more receptive to learning about the conclusions drawn from the survey.
List the factors that motivated you to conduct this research in the first place. By stating the reasons behind the research, your audience will have a better understanding of why the survey was conducted and the importance of the findings.
Your report should include a description of how your data was collected. In this case it is an on-line survey process, versus one that was performed using paper, telephone or a panel discussion survey.
Your report should also indicate if the following:
the survey was conducted using anonymous respondents or not
how many responses were provided
if the responses are unique or respondents may provide more than one response
details of how the how the analysis was conducted
How the survey results are communicated is just as important as what the actual results are. Sound analysis may be hampered by a poor presentation. You should think about what your intended audience cares most about and express your survey's results to match those needs.
Your audience will only remember a few key points from your presentation. You must decide what these few key points will be and drill them home. By doing so, your influence will be at its greatest.
Start your report writing work with constructing tables and graphs. In particular, do this if your analysis is very technical. It will make your writing much easier as it will provide an outline for your thoughts as well as a nice visual, high-impact presentation for your audience.
Explain findings discovered in your research, especially facts that were important, unusual, or unexpected. Highlight some of the key points that were uncovered in your results. Indicate that more detail will be revealed later in the presentation.
Just as you proof-read your report for spelling and grammar errors, you should do the same for the numbers you report. You want to be sure the information you report is sound and accurate. Below is a checklist of tips you should consider:
Check that totals are the sum of sub-totals. For instance, the total response count should be equal to the sum of the respective response counts for men and women.
Perform a reasonability check on your numbers. Compare the figures to something that you are familiar with as a sanity check.
Related item's numbers should be related in a predictable way. For instance, higher education level should be positively correlated with higher income. If your survey results indicate otherwise, determining why is the next logical step. This will lead to further study and analysis.
Check that your information is current. You will want to be sure that you are consistently reporting results from the latest version of your survey study.
Use and honest scale for your charts and graphs. For instance, using an axis that does not extend to zero without expressly notifying the audience is a well known problem detailed in the book, How to Lie with Statistics. If a chart is not immediately direct and understandable, it should be modified or removed all together.
Consider normalizing your numbers. It may make numbers easier to compare and understand. For instance, if your chart contains a wide range of numbers, the smaller result items may be too small or the large numbers too large, and will distort the look (chart scaling). In such case, consider charting using the average or the minimum number as the baseline.
Use the correct precision. Do not represent information to be more accurate than it is. For instance, if all of your data is in dollars, report them in dollars. Do not include cents in the figure, i.e. $35.00 should be $35.
Summarize your findings using concise statements and include recommendations. Your assertions should be backed by the evidence collected from the survey data. It is from these closing summary statements that will provide the greatest influence on your audience. Touch upon only a few key points from your findings.
When you document your work, you provide a trail for others as well as yourself to follow to recount important details. Give credit where credit is due. Documenting your work also aids you in thinking clearly, in an organized manner, about your analysis and how you came to your conclusions.
If you like to learn more about survey results reporting, please consult our book recommendations for further reading on this subject.
Last updated: 2012 January 24