Purpose of the survey
• What are the bulletin’s aims? E.g. convey current drug information, advocate changes in regulation, etc.
• What readers are you targeting? E.g. all, or a subgroup such as primary care doctors, hospital doctors, pharmacists, the public.
• What sort of information do you need from this survey? e.g. extent bulletin is read, usefulness of the articles, suitability of electronic publishing.
• Whose opinion do you want? E.g. all on mailing list, or a particular subgroup.
• What will the survey achieve? E.g. ideas for improving the format, evidence to support continued funding.
• Have similar surveys been done? Review the literature for published reports.
• Ask editors for survey reports and sample questionnaires via the ISDB network
• What errors were made and what problems were encountered in other similar studies? Talk to other editors and ask for a copy of their survey.
• Who could give advice? Ask an experienced editor or researcher.
• Will you let participants know who the research is being conducted for? This has potential advantages and disadvantages.
• What questions need to be asked?
• How many readers should be sent the survey?
• How will they be selected?
• What demographic variables (profession, location, etc.) should be considered?
• Should respondents be anonymous? This is usually recommended to encourage a full and honest response.
• What is the likely response rate? Remember you may be working with busy medical professionals so this may not be as high as for other types of survey.
• Will non-responders be followed-up; if so, how will they be contacted?
• Is an inducement needed/appropriate to ensure a good response rate?
• Is it necessary to include a stamped self-addressed envelope?
• If the service is available, consider reply-paid envelopes - you only pay the postage for those returned.
• What is the cut-off date for processing responses?
• Is it sufficient for a few readers to review the questionnaire before full distribution or is a pilot study needed?
• How will the data be collected, processed and analysed?
Administration, workplan and budget
• Who has overall responsibility for the survey?
• Who will monitor activities/progress?
• Who will process and analyse the results?
• How long will it take? Is the estimated length of time realistic?
• What resources are needed (staff/money/data processing software etc.)?
• Do you have the appropriate analysis tool?
• Do you have the necessary expertise or access to expertise?
• Who could provide funding and equipment?
• Was the response rate adequate?
• Can valid conclusions be drawn from the results?
Publication and use of results
• Who needs to see the final report? Who is interested in your results? You may want to publish a summary of the results in the bulletin. This is a way of showing respect for respondents and valuing their contribution, as well as allowing readers to compare their attitudes to the overall trend.
• What actions are needed in response to the survey results? Who will do this?
• Who else could benefit from this research? You may want to submit an article on your survey and what you learned from it to the ISDB Newsletter.
• How could you have improved the survey?
• When should you next undertake an evaluation?