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Creating a Practical Survey: The Effect of Survey Design on Data Presentation

Creating a Practical Survey: The Effect of Survey Design on Data Presentation

The types of questions you create in a survey play an important role in what the data looks like in the Analyze section (and also in the download formats!). Depending on what you want to do with the data, consider how you want it to be presented. Taking this initial step before creating your survey will make the analysis portion much easier. This blog highlights step 3 of our 7-Step Checklist for Creating a Practical Survey.

Open-Ended vs. Close-Ended Questions

When designing a survey, think about what you want to do with the data. Do you want to scan through hundreds of open-ended comments, or can you ask multiple choice questions instead to get that same information? We do offer a Text Analysis feature, but you may not want your entire survey to consist of only open-ended questions.

Example: You want to know how your members enjoyed an exhibit at your museum.

Instead of asking all open-ended questions like:

You could ask close-ended questions with a predetermined set of answer choices:

Rating/Matrix or Multiple Choice (Multiple Answers) Questions

Before using these specific question types, consider if an alternate type could work better to show the data output you want.  Rating questions are good to use if you want to tabulate a Rating Average.  Keep in mind, though, that matrix questions can harm data quality.

How these questions are exported:

When using Matrix/Rating and Multiple Answer questions, the data in the full spreadsheets (i.e. All Responses Collected) and SPSS are going to spread over several columns. It is good to be prepared for this, so you aren’t surprised by the data output after you have collected responses.

For example, multiple answer questions (e.g. Multiple Choice Multiple Answers Allowed/Rating/Matrix) always remain expanded in the full spreadsheet and SPSS exports.  Each answer choice is assigned to its own column.  If there are 5 answer choices in a Multiple Choice question and respondents can pick more than one answer, Excel and SPSS show the data expanded into 5 columns (e.g. J, K, L, M and N).  This can get complicated if you have a Matrix with Drop-down menus question that has 20 rows, 10 columns (drop-down headers), and 5 possible answer choices in each drop-down.

NOTE: In SPSS if you want the data to not span over multiple columns per question, then we recommend using Multiple Choice (Only One Answer) question types.

Additional Examples

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6 thoughts on “Creating a Practical Survey: The Effect of Survey Design on Data Presentation

  1. Gazi Mohammad Elias says:

    Can I submit my topics for analyze?

    1. Colby P says:

      Hi Gazi,

      Thanks for your question! Can you give us some more information on what you are looking to do when you ask if you can submit your topics for analyze.

  2. nouraei.h says:

    how does spss works?{in data analysis)

    1. Bennett P says:

      Nouraei –

      You can download your survey results into SPSS, if you wish. Here’s how:

      Note that there are basic analysis tools in the product, too. Good luck!

  3. derv says:


    Downloading data from surveymonkey to excel.trying to make sense of it here. What does a “0” mean in an excel cell? I assume an empty cell means missing data?I had a 5 pt likert scale and a numbe rof cells are left empty or have a “0” in them?


    1. Kayte K says:

      Hi there, here are a few links from our Help Center page on exporting your data into Excel that might help:

      Let us know if that does the trick!

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