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Surveys I’ll Never Take or, Make Me Want to Take Your Survey!


Library school student, librarian, and other information professional survey makers: this post is for you.

Most of us want to help you out, especially if your survey results may help us out, but even if it’s just to support a student or a colleague.

We’re happy to take your survey … IF you follow some basic rules, which most of you never do:

(Aside: There are different (and more) rules for commercial operations, businesses, non-profits, etc. that send out surveys. This blog post applies only to our intra-library community surveys.)

Please include the following information – front and center – in your survey request:

1) When does your survey close? An exact date and time, please.
Please respect my time. No one wants to waste time attempting to link to a dead survey so make it quick and easy for me to figure out how to fit your survey into my schedule.

2) Please don’t tell me how long the survey will take.
This is especially so if you don’t have a clue – and you don’t have a clue until your survey software tells you – after x number of people have taken the survey. You deserve a dope slap if you tell me it will take 5 (or x) minutes, but haven’t tested the survey on at least a dozen people who have never seen the survey questions before. Even then, you don’t know how long *I* will take to answer your questions. This problem can be fixed easily by following the next Rule.

3) Put your survey questions in your message that asks us to take your survey.
Most of us try our best with surveys from students and colleagues and want time to think about our answers, so please tell us ahead of time what the questions are. Really, I will not take your survey if I don’t know what the questions are, before I link to your survey.

4) Please tell us if we are able to Save (and return later to the survey) or if we have one chance only to complete the survey, i.e. in one sitting.
This is very important for survey takers to know even if there is only one survey question. Life Equals Interruption. I won’t even begin a survey if I don’t know if I can Save and Return.

This is another reason to give advance notice of the questions – before anyone even opens your Survey. I can draft my answer(s), open the survey, and copy and paste the answer(s). Voila. Everyone saves time, you get thoughtful answers, and I may even have time to take the next survey – hahaha.

5) Promise to send survey takers at least a summary of your survey results (or a link to results) via the same medium you used to ask us to take your survey – and then follow through, even if it’s 6 months later. We know these things take time.

It’s all about common courtesy. Other people are much busier than you are. Really, If you start with that assumption, you can’t go very wrong.

It’s also about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. (Thank you, Aretha Franklin.) Treat survey takers the same way you want to be treated and you just might improve your survey return results.

Thank you!

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