How to Create a Survey for Research

Surveys are great ways to collect data on street harassment and other related issues. Once you have created the survey and calculated the statistics, you can use these results to create a research report or summary. This information can then be shared with supporters of your organization and individuals interested in the research topic.

1. Define the aim of your survey.  What key questions are you trying to answer? Example questions include: what is the emotional impact of street harassment? What is the economic impact of street harassment? What is the prevelance of street harassment? How does street harassment compare across cultures? What is the impact of particular solutions or interventions, including media, police reporting, bystander intervention, etc.

2. Determine the target demographic for your street harassment survey respondents. (ex. gender, race, age groups)

3. Decide on the length of time that your survey will take to complete. Keep in mind this time length when creating questions. (An ideal length of a survey is 10 minutes). Test the survey out on your friends to determine how long it will take to administer.

4. Find resources that can help you with creating your survey. For example, you can collect other surveys that address similar issues you are researching.

5. Paper surveys vs. online surveys: You will have to decide whether you will have a printed copy of your survey or only have the survey available online. Keep in mind that it may be useful to have paper surveys for respondents who can only be reached via mail, in person, or on the telephone. However with online surveys you reduce the costs of printing, respondents have complete anonymity, and they can take the survey whenever and wherever they choose which decreases the likelihood that they will rush through the survey or give false answers.

6. Find a program or resource that you can use to develop your survey (ex. a useful and free online program for creating your software would be the website Survey Monkey which can be accessed by going to: www. )

7. State your goals and objectives at the beginning of your survey to give respondents insight about your organization and the topic you are researching.

8. Decide on the response formats you will use for your questions. For example when asking for general or demographic information, you can use a nominal scale, ie:

When asking for a respondent’s opinion on a particular issue, you can use an ordinal scale or have open-ended questions like the examples below:

When you are researching the prevalence of an issue you can use interval questions like the one below:

If your survey asks questions that could have more than one answer for respondents, you can instruct them to circle all that apply.

You could also have respondents answer questions that refer to one specific instance of street harassment. (Hollaback! Croatia used this method in their 2012 street harassment survey)

9. Create the survey questions with the software you choose once you have decided which response formats will provide the best results for your research.

10. When asking questions refer to specific acts or behaviors (Ex. When researching street harassment, instead of asking have your respondents ever been street harassed, you should ask whether or not strangers have made comments that made them feel uncomfortable).

11. Determine the order that questions will appear in the survey. Place the questions that will be easiest to answer at the very beginning and end of the survey. Difficult or sensitive questions should appear halfway through the survey.

12. Distribute the survey to the target demographic you want to reach by gaining access to Listervs and advertising the survey on social networking sites. If you have paper copies you can mail those copies to places where you would like to have respondents take the survey and pick them up when they are completed or visit these places and distribute the surveys yourself.

13. Collect all the data from the survey and calculate the statistics of your results in order to publish the research.

14. Once you publish your research, you can send out a press release, contact other organizations and Hollaback! sites to send out the research results through their networks, or schedule a panel/presentation to discuss the research findings)

Fourteen Hollaback sites internationally have performed research on street harassment. You can check out some of that research here.


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