Table 1

Steps during the analysis of survey data

StepsExplanation
1. After receiving the instruments back, the researcher needs to be concerned about the size of the response rate.This means that the participants need to be notified several times to complete the instrument, including often a second mailing of the instrument to gather data. Most importantly is the concept of response bias—whether the responses received are biased in a certain way based on when the response are returned. Several ways to check to see if responses are biased include monitoring the responses as they are returned to see if the viewpoints differ depending on the early versus late responses. Also, follow-up phone calls can be made to those who do not respond to determine if their responses were significantly different than those who did respond.
2. When all responses are in, the researcher enters the data into a computer program such as SPSS and needs to review the data and ‘clean’ it for responses that are obvious errors. It also involves a preliminary analysis of the data.When these are corrected, the researcher then conducts a descriptive analysis of all of the answers to note the means, SD and ranges of the scores to each item.17
3. This step is followed by grouping the items into scales that had been determined prior to the administration of the instrument.Further checks then can be made to examine the reliability of the scales to see if the items determined to group into a scale provide a meaningful scale.
4. The researcher conducts inferential analysis to look at the relationship among the variables/scales and to compare different personal variable characteristics and the variables/scales.In addition, the researcher may want to compare groups in terms of variables/scales. These analyses help to answer the research questions posed at the beginning of the study.