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Thoughts on writing surveys… December 1, 2006

Posted by Sarah in progress.

I’ve never written a complex survey before.  I think I’ve written a max of three or four surveys in my life.  So when I sat down today to turn my little LiveJournal pilot survey into the beginings of something bigger, with skip logic and all that stuff, I felt a bit daunted.  I didn’t even know where to begin.  I knew I needed some way to map out the skip logic (of which there will be a fair bit, assuming that SurveyMonkey doesn’t limit it) and I knew that ideally I would be able to incorporate both the map of the skip logic and the full questions (prompts and answers) into one document.

I started messing around with ways that I could do it in OmniOutliner.  I’d used the app for outlining drafts of my prospectus and other general mucking about, but had never tried to use the multiple columns feature.  It occurred to me that I might be able to have a single many-columned document that could serve as the entire map.  It turns out that secondary columns don’t have all the features of the primary column (or at least I couldn’t figure out how to force it to do that), but I created two documents: one for the main survey and one for the subsections.  Of course, it just now occurred to me that I could just as easily have one document with the subsections below the main section, and in just a minute I’m going to go collapse the two documents into one master one because that makes SO MUCH more sense.  So now I’ve translated the old pilot survey into a main survey and a branch for LiveJournal users.  I need to start working on lists of questions for users of other blogging systems and revamp the whole thing to make more sense for what I’m thinking about now (as opposed to two years ago).

In other news, 3/4 of my committee is ready for me to defend my proposal.  Whoo!



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