Crucial Tips for Collecting Personal Information with Surveys

A great survey is one of the most effective ways of gaining trust and cooperation from respondents. Whether in personal life or at work, surveys can make your life overall a little easier.

Do you need to collect some personal information (PI) from respondents for your survey project initiative? If so, then we encourage you to ensure that you are following ethical practices way. Not only will doing so allow you to get the information you need, but you will also be building and maintaining trust amongst your respondents.

Do you wonder which type of questions you should include in the survey for collecting PI? You can include PI questions related to income, gender, religious affiliations, political views, or even about one’s personal hygiene. Just make sure to avoid any type of questions that ask about personally identifiable and sensitive information including Social Security numbers or banking information.

Below are some tips that can help you collect personal information with surveys:

Know which personal information is essential

Only ask personal information questions that are essential for your research. There is no need to ask the sensitive questions that do not support the ultimate research objective directly. Keep this crucial step in mind before collecting the PI to determine the success of the research project.

Keep the survey anonymous

Personal information is usually required for research purposes, but it is not usually necessary to know where the information is coming from. Survey respondents will give more honest and truthful responses when you ensure survey anonymity. In other words, respondents are more likely to provide personal information when they believe that data will not be traced back to them. Make sure the survey responses are actually anonymous and let your respondents know so that they input their real personal data without hesitation.

Clearly mention the confidentiality in the survey instructions

Before you are done with building a set of questions for the survey, create an instruction section and clearly mention the importance of confidentiality in and of the survey, including how you will protect their data. While mentioning confidentiality in the survey may seem like an unimportant tactic, it does play a significant role in getting the respondents to provide PI.

Include less sensitive questions in the survey

In order to build trust with your respondents, ask simple questions earlier on within the survey that does not ask for PI—then ask the PI-related questions later in the survey. This way, you would have effectively “warmed-up” the respondents and increased their trust in your survey.

Maintain a level of respect and make the respondents comfortable

To collect as many responses as possible, researchers need to be motivated. Often, researchers are reluctant to ask necessary PI using surveys. Once you understand what PI you truly need within the survey for the PI, you will be more comfortable asking for it and that asking for PI is the same as asking for other kinds of information. This allows you to be able to establish an actionable and statistically significant dataset. If the respondents are uncomfortable during the surveys, there is always a risk that respondents will not complete it genuinely and provide untruthful and inaccurate responses, causing your dataset not to be completely real-world accurate.

By including questions in the survey that you think respondents will be willing to answer, you can make your surveys more appealing. Simply make sure the questions in the survey maintain the level of respect and comfort for the respondents.

Include multiple choice survey questions

Anytime you ask for PI in a survey, it is important to present the questions in the survey in a neutral and non-judging way. To remove a judgmental tone, consider providing some answer options with the question. For instance, questions such as, “Do you read a newspaper regularly?” comes with a judgmental tone. Conversely, “How often do you read a newspaper?” is less judgmental and more neutral in nature. Regardless of which you use, include multiple choice options such as “Never,” “Everyday” or “Twice a week.” This will help you to get the accurate responses from respondents.

By following the above-mentioned tips, you can more easily collect PI with surveys. You should consider all of these to reach the goal of your research project.

As a final note, it is imperative to handle the personal information you collect from surveys carefully. Depending on the research goal, the strategies for collecting PI varies. For gathering PI such as public opinion and demographic data, you need to follow the right strategy to ensure that you get the results that you are seeking. There are many online platforms available that provide the capabilities and control necessary to aid in compliance.

Furthermore, when it comes to collecting needed personal info with online surveys, data security should always be a concern. You can leverage online survey tools to create surveys to collect the PI from the respondents for your research work by maintaining a minimum level of security.

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