Data collection tools

Pen and paper questionnaire

CIPFA Research uses pen and paper questionnaires for its library and archive surveys. The advantage of this process is that the respondent can complete the survey in their own time, and does not rely on (the often unpredictable) computer hardware / software. The main disadvantages to this approach are printing costs and the time taken to process the resulting data; however CIPFA Research is able to print and scan questionnaires on an organisation’s behalf.

Online survey

In recent times, a more common method of data collection has been online surveys, in the form of interactive questionnaires. These surveys have the benefit of being flexible, as they can be completed in the respondent’s own time and also on a variety of mobile/ computer devices. This process eradicates the need for staff to distribute questionnaires by hand, as surveys can be emailed and automated reminders can be sent. There can also be reduced costs as no printing or scanning is required.

The CIPFA Research team are trained in using IBM online survey software, meaning that they can set up, disseminate and host these surveys on an organisation’s behalf. An additional benefit of this software is that organisations will be able to access the results online, and create outputs such as charts and tables using the analysis tool provided. 

Discussion guide

A discussion guide outlines what themes are to be explored in depth interviews or focus groups, as well as ways to prompt the respondent and encourage participation. The guide is informed by the research objectives; however the interview does not have to remain rigid to the guide as additional themes may be unearthed that were previously unidentified by the researcher.