1. Definition
Surveying is a classical method of empirical data generation. This method generates statements and attitudes of persons toward issues. The usual approach is to select respondents (sample) who represent a target population. Surveys can be classified according to the degree of standardization (e.g. standard survey, guided interview, in-depth interview) and survey situation (personal [on-on-one or group], telephone, written [on paper or online]).

2. Applications
Surveys investigate knowledge, opinions, attitudes and (up to a point) behaviors of various persons and communities. They qualify as primary research generating new, not previously identified data (as opposed to secondary research/ desk research). Surveys can be used to investigate which communication contents are received, interpreted and processed, and how this happens. Surveys ask the recipient directly, whereas content analysis methods (see media response analysis) use reporting as a basis for drawing conclusions about recipient perception.

3. Conduct
The following steps are necessary for successfully obtaining data through surveys:

  1. Definition of the subject-matter of analysis (what am I analyzing?)
  2. Definition of the knowledge to be derived (what do I want to find out?)
  3. Definition of target population (who do I want to find out about?)
  4. Sample selection (who must I ask in order to be able to draw conclusions about the target population?)
  5. Design of the survey method (degree of standardization / interview situation)
  6. Questionnaire / guide development (scope, degree of difficulty, wording of questions, sequence/question placement)
  7. Data processing and evaluation

The questions themselves are classified according to three dimensions:

  • Content: concerning content of question, e.g. question eliciting knowledge, opinion, guesswork etc.
  • Method: differentiation according to the wording of questions and how answers are leicited, e.g. open / closed question with multiple choice, direct / indirect question etc.
  • Function: function as part of the questionnaire, e.g. icebreaker question, filter question, control question, transitional question etc.

Sources of error (e.g. interviewer effect, placement effect, halo effect, social desirability etc.) should be considered when designing the questionnaire / guide and ruled out to the fullest possible extent.

Analysis of questionnaires and data is usually computer-assisted. Depending on the degree of standardization, qualitative analysis of the answers may be done in addition.

4. Indicators
The outcome measures for communication monitoring depend on the survey design.

5. Service providers in Germany
A&B.Framework, Berlin
Aserto, Hannover
forsa, Berlin
FORSA BrandControl, Frankfurt/Main
GfK, Nürnberg
infas, Bonn
rheingold, Köln
Skopos, Hürth
TNS Infratest, München
YouGovPsychonomics, Köln / Wien

6. Links - Wikipedia article "Quantitative research".

7. Further reading
Babbie, Earl R. (2009): The Practice of Social Research. 12th Edition. Belmont, California (USA).

Paine, Katie D. (2007): Measuring Public Relationships, Berlin (NH).

Stacks, Don W. (2002): Primer of Public Relations Research. New York.

8. Case studies

Please send us short texts from your projects on this topic in the same structure as the existing case studies, and more information (pdf or links) on the methods employed in as much detail as possible.

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