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Survey Data Analysis
Online Survey Data – Analysis and Reporting

Online Survey Data – Analysis and Reporting
A comprehensive guide

Online surveys are an effective way to collect data from a large number of respondents quickly and efficiently. However, the real value of online surveys lies in the data analysis and reporting that follows, as it provides valuable insights that can inform decision-making and drive business growth.

Online surveys have become increasingly popular in recent years as a tool for collecting data from a large and diverse group of people. They are used by researchers, businesses, and organizations to gather information on a wide range of topics such as customer satisfaction, market research, and social trends. However, the value of these surveys lies not only in the data collected but also in the analysis and reporting of that data.

Online survey data analysis and reporting can be a daunting task, especially for those new to the field. It is a critical step in the process of turning raw survey data into actionable insights. This comprehensive guide is designed to provide insight into the world of online survey data analysis and reporting, covering everything from basic survey data analysis and techniques to reporting strategies. Whether you are conducting a survey for the first time or looking to improve your existing data analysis and reporting processes, this guide is designed to help you make the most of your survey data.

Definition and Purpose of Online Surveys

An online survey is a data collection method that uses the internet to gather responses from a group of participants. Participants are usually asked to fill out a set of questions, either multiple-choice questions or open-ended questions, and submit their responses electronically.

The purpose of online surveys is to gather information and insights from a large and diverse group of people quickly and efficiently. Online surveys can be used for various purposes such as understanding customer needs (e.b. by conducting customer satisfaction surveys), evaluating employee satisfaction (e.g. by conducting employee feedback surveys), assessing public opinion (e.g. by political surveys), or identifying market trends (e.g. by conducting market research surveys). The information gathered from online surveys can help researchers and organizations make informed decisions and improve their products, services, or policies.

Importance of Survey Data Analysis and Reporting of Results

Analyzing and reporting the results of an online survey is a crucial step in the research process. It enables researchers and organizations to identify patterns and trends in the data, draw conclusions, and make recommendations based on the findings. Additionally, sharing the results of the survey with stakeholders, such as customers or employees, can help build trust and transparency, and demonstrate a commitment to using feedback to drive improvements.

Therefore, it is important to have a clear understanding of the different types of data, measurement scales, and analysis techniques in online surveys, as well as best practices for reporting results, to ensure accurate and useful information is obtained.

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Types of Data in Online Surveys

Online surveys can gather different types of data, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Understanding the different types of data can help researchers select the appropriate questions and analysis techniques for their research purposes.

  1. Structured data
    Structured data refers to responses that are pre-defined by the researcher, with respondents choosing from a set of predetermined options. This type of data is often collected through multiple-choice, rating, or Likert scale questions.
    Types of structured questions are:
    • Multiple-choice questions provide respondents with a set of options to choose from. They are commonly used to gather demographic information or to ask specific questions with a limited number of response options.
    • Rating scale questions ask respondents to rate their opinion or satisfaction on a scale, typically ranging from 1 to 5 or 1 to 10. This type of question is useful for gathering quantitative data on attitudes, opinions, or preferences.
    • Likert scale questions ask respondents to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with a statement on a scale, usually ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. They are commonly used to measure attitudes or opinions.
    • Dichotomous questions ask respondents to choose between two options, such as yes or no, true or false, or agree or disagree.
    • Semantic differential questions ask respondents to rate a concept or product on a set of bipolar adjectives, such as good-bad, attractive-unattractive, or efficient-inefficient.

    Structured data is easy to analyze and report, as responses can be easily categorized and summarized. However, this type of data can be limited in its ability to capture the nuances and complexity of human experiences or opinions.

  2. Unstructured data
    Unstructured data refers to responses that are open-ended and allow respondents to express their thoughts, opinions, or experiences in their own words. This type of data is often collected through open-ended questions.
    Types of unstructured questions include:
    • Open-ended questions allow respondents to answer in their own words, providing more detailed and nuanced responses than structured questions. They are useful for gathering qualitative data and for exploring new or complex topics.
    • Word association questions ask respondents to provide the first word that comes to mind in response to a given stimulus, such as a product or concept.
    • Sentence completion questions ask respondents to complete a given sentence, providing insights into their thoughts and feelings on a particular topic.
    • Picture association questions ask respondents to provide their thoughts or associations with a given image or picture.
    • Storytelling questions ask respondents to provide a detailed narrative or story in response to a given prompt or topic.

    Unstructured data provides more detailed and nuanced responses than structured data, enabling researchers to gain a deeper understanding of the topic. However, analyzing and reporting unstructured data can be more time-consuming and complex than structured data.

  3. Raw data
    Raw data is the unprocessed data collected during an online survey that is not yet organized or analyzed. It is the most fundamental form of data that is collected and contains valuable information about participants’ opinions, attitudes, and behaviors.
  4. Raw data can be in various formats, such as text, numbers, or images. For instance, raw data in a text format may include responses to open-ended questions, while raw data in a numeric format may include participants’ ratings on a scale.

    Raw data is essential for any type of analysis and can provide insights into patterns, trends, and relationships that would otherwise be missed. It allows researchers to identify patterns and trends that inform business decisions, product development, and marketing strategies.

    Raw data enables the reanalysis of survey data. It can be kept on file and reanalyzed if new questions arise or if the original data analysis did not provide the insights needed. This can save time and resources, as researchers do not need to conduct new surveys to answer follow-up questions.

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Measurement Scales in Online Surveys

Measurement scales are used in online surveys to measure and categorize participants’ responses. A measurement scale is a tool that assigns a numerical or categorical value to a variable or attribute being measured.
There are four types of measurement scales commonly used in online surveys:

  1. Nominal
    Nominal scales categorize variables into non-ordered groups or classes, such as gender or race. Responses are not ranked in any particular order.
  2. Ordinal
    Ordinal scales categorize variables into ordered groups or classes, such as level of education or income. Responses are ranked in a particular order, but the intervals between values are not equal.
  3. Interval
    Interval scales categorize variables into ordered groups or classes, such as temperature or time. Responses are ranked in a particular order, and the intervals between values are equal.
  4. Ratio
    Ratio scales are similar to interval scales, but with a true zero point, such as height or weight. Responses are ranked in a particular order, the intervals between values are equal, and there is a true zero point.
Measurement Scales in Online Surveys

Understanding measurement scales is crucial for researchers to analyze and interpret survey data accurately. Different types of measurement scales require different statistical analysis techniques. For example, nominal data can only be analyzed using frequency distribution, while interval data can be analyzed using means, standard deviations, and correlation coefficients.

Moreover, the type of measurement scale used in a survey impacts the type of conclusions that can be drawn from the data. Researchers must choose the appropriate measurement scale based on the research question and ensure that the responses are accurately categorized to avoid drawing incorrect conclusions.

To summarize, we can say that understanding measurement scales is essential for researchers to accurately analyze and interpret online survey data. Different measurement scales require different statistical analysis techniques, and choosing the appropriate measurement scale is crucial to ensure the accuracy of research findings.

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Online Survey Data Analysis

Once the data is collected in an online survey, the next step is to analyze it to extract meaningful insights. Data analysis involves examining, cleaning, and transforming data to discover patterns, relationships, and trends that can inform decision-making. In this section, we will discuss the techniques used for analyzing data in online surveys, focusing on both quantitative and qualitative data analysis methods. We will also explore the importance of preparing data for analysis and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

Quantitative Survey Data Analysis

Quantitative data in online surveys is data that can be measured and expressed numerically. It is obtained through structured questions, where participants select a response from a predetermined set of options.

There are different techniques for analyzing quantitative data:

  • Descriptive statistics are used to summarize and describe the main features of the quantitative data. This includes measures of central tendency (such as mean, median, and mode) and measures of variability (such as range, variance, and standard deviation).
  • Inferential statistics are used to make inferences and generalize findings beyond the sample data. This includes hypothesis testing and confidence interval estimation.
  • Crosstab reports are used to cross-tabulate responses to different questions and identify patterns and relationships between variables.

Threre are different ways you can prepare quantitative data results:

  • Data cleaning involves checking the data for errors, inconsistencies, and missing values.
  • Data validation involves ensuring that the data is accurate, complete, and consistent.
  • Data visualization involves presenting the data in a visual format, such as charts and graphs, to make it easier to understand and interpret.

Advantages of quantitative data analysis include its objectivity, precision, and ability to generalize findings to a larger population.
However, disadvantages include its limited ability to capture complex, nuanced responses, and its reliance on pre-determined responses.

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Qualitative Survey Data Analysis

Qualitative data in online surveys is data that cannot be expressed numerically. It is obtained through open-ended questions, where participants can provide detailed, descriptive responses.

Different techniques for analyzing quantitative data include:

  • Content analysis involves categorizing and counting the frequency of specific words or themes in the qualitative data.
  • Thematic analysis involves identifying and analyzing patterns, themes, and meanings in the qualitative data.
  • Grounded theory involves developing a theory or explanation for the patterns and themes observed in the qualitative data.
  • Narrative analysis involves analyzing the structure, content, and context of the qualitative data to identify themes and meanings.

Threre are different ways you can prepare qualitative data results:

  • Transcription involves converting qualitative data from audio or video recordings into text format.
  • Data coding involves categorizing qualitative data into themes, concepts, or categories.
  • Data visualization involves presenting qualitative data in a visual format, such as word clouds or diagrams.

Advantages of qualitative data analysis include its ability to capture complex, nuanced responses and its flexibility to adapt to unexpected findings.
However, disadvantages include its subjectivity, difficulty in generalizing findings, and potential for researcher bias.

Learn more about Qualitative Data

Reporting Results and Best Practices

Reporting results is a critical step in the online survey process. It allows researchers to communicate their findings to stakeholders, make informed decisions, and develop recommendations. Without proper reporting, the survey results may not be interpreted accurately, and the survey’s objectives may not be met.

A survey report typically includes the following components:

  • Executive summary – A brief overview of the survey’s key findings and recommendations.
  • Methodology – A description of the survey’s design, sample size, sampling method, data collection method, and response rate.
  • Results – A detailed survey data analysis of the results, including descriptive and inferential statistics, crosstab reports, and qualitative survey data analysis.
  • Recommendations – A list of actionable recommendations based on the survey’s results.

To effectively report results in online surveys, consider the following best practices:

  • Use clear and concise language
    Use simple language and avoid technical jargon to ensure that your report is understandable to all stakeholders.
  • Use charts and graphs to visualize data
    Visual aids can help readers better understand the survey’s results and identify key patterns and trends.
  • Provide context for the results
    Provide an explanation of the results and their implications for the research objectives, including limitations and potential biases.
  • Be transparent about limitations and potential biases
    Acknowledge any limitations in the survey’s design, sampling method, data collection, and survey data analysis. Providing transparency helps to increase the credibility of the survey results.


This article has provided an overview of the different types of data in online surveys, the importance of understanding measurement scales, and the techniques for survey data analysis and reporting. By distinguishing between structured and unstructured data, and recognizing the value of raw data, researchers can ensure they are capturing a comprehensive understanding of their target population.

Similarly, understanding measurement scales is essential for proper data analysis and interpretation. Whether using quantitative or qualitative methods, data analysis techniques and data visualization tools can help to identify patterns and trends in the data.

Finally, reporting results is a critical step that ensures research findings are communicated clearly and effectively to stakeholders. By following best practices for reporting results, researchers can ensure that their findings are actionable and that insights gained from online surveys can be translated into meaningful business decisions.

Moving forward, online survey research will continue to evolve, with new technologies and methodologies offering exciting opportunities for data collection and analysis. It is essential for researchers to remain up-to-date with emerging trends in online survey research to ensure that they continue to produce high-quality, actionable insights.

FAQs on Online Survey Data Analysis and Reporting

How do I analyze data from an online survey?

There are several techniques for analyzing data from an online survey, including descriptive statistics, inferential statistics, crosstab reports, content analysis, thematic analysis, grounded theory, and narrative analysis. The choice of technique depends on the type of data collected and the research questions being addressed.

What is the margin of error in an online survey?

The margin of error in an online survey is a measure of the accuracy of the sample results in relation to the true population parameters. It is affected by factors such as sample size, sampling method, and response rate. Typically, a larger sample size leads to a smaller margin of error.

What are the different types of measurement scales used in online surveys?

The different types of measurement scales used in online surveys include nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio scales. Each scale has different properties and is used for different types of data.

How can I present my online survey results in a clear and effective way?

To present your online survey results in a clear and effective way, you can use charts and graphs, provide context for the results, use plain language and avoid jargon, highlight key findings, and provide actionable recommendations based on the results.