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Why Survey Basics?

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Mon May 16 2016

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Since 1975, Jack has been positioning ROI as a critical measure of value for non-capital investments. His work (along with mine, since 1997) has touched professionals well beyond the boundaries of learning and development to include human resources, meetings and events, marketing, and even humanitarian efforts. And with about 110 books authored, co-authored, or edited to our names, he and I have had the opportunity to share our work in measurement and evaluation, specifically the ROI Methodology.

As we’ve worked with clients and students, we’ve been repeatedly asked for guidance on the basic mechanics of good data collection and analysis. I was even asked once during a workshop what comes first: the survey technology or the survey question. Her adoption of a particular technology led her to believe that the standard questions embedded in that system are always the right questions. It was at that moment I told Jack that we needed to write the book we’d been talking about for a long time: Survey Basics.

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Survey Basics is in no way intended to replace good comprehensive, research-based publications on survey design. Rather, it is a summary of that comprehensive research written in a way that (we hope) gets to the point of key issues in survey design.

For example, research shows there are four types of error resulting from poorly designed survey research: 1) coverage error, 2) sampling error, 3) response error, and 4) measurement error. The book attempts to help readers address these types of error when faced with such challenges. It also includes a few sample surveys to demonstrate the work of colleagues working in or studying the discipline of human capital development (learning and development; training, meetings and events; human resources).

We hope those of you who have read Survey Basics find it to be a useful book. We’re excited about it, because it describes how to improve one of the most often used, yet one of the most challenging forms of data collection. If you want to develop meaningful measures, you have to ask meaningful questions. Survey Basics is intended to give you a practical foundation for doing just that.

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