Lessons learned

  • We were initially concerned about the complexity of the household survey form and whether respondents would understand the task in hand.  The pilot study was a very useful exercise here, providing useful feedback and reassurance.  There were a few minor issues; some people only filled in part of the form, work trips may be underreported in some surveys completed by Dunbar Grammar School pupils, but a great deal of useful information has been obtained which will help to focus future projects.
  • It was found that the use of short questionnaires which can be quickly completed was very effective for single subject issues, but has to be balanced against survey fatigue; is there a better response rate from a detailed form dealing with many issues or lots of small surveys?  Take survey fatigue into consideration when preparing a programme of surveys and make it as short as possible (1-2 months max. as people start to lose interest after that).
  • Programme plenty of time for survey analysis!  If the survey is a success with a good response rate, there will be an awful lot of information to make sense of.
  • Make use of smaller neighbourhood groups such as resident’s associations, parent and child groups etc.  This makes the project more personal to people and results in better responses.  It also leads to good publicity via word of mouth.