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Polco News & Knowledge

6 New Ways to Collect Opinion Data from Your Residents

– By Thomas Miller

Survey Research Revolution Part II

It’s a disruptive time for many industries including the survey research industry. As times change, researchers and their clients need to distinguish genuine advances from promises that overreach.  Below, we offer six survey advances that have potential.

You may already be engaged in some of these survey practices, but not all will be useful to you. Some of those practices already embarked upon may benefit from reconsideration to assure proper fit with your organization’s survey goals. Each possible innovation comes with pros and cons, and some can be done in combination.  NRC survey researchers can help you sort through all the options for your government organization.

1. Citizen Survey Panel

A group of willing residents is recruited to participate periodically in unique topical surveys useful to local decision bodies.  Properly deployed and analyzed, responses can approximate the perspectives of all residents in the community.

2. Resident Networks

Apps provided by companies like NextDoor, Bang the Table, or Peak Democracy’s Open Townhall are used to encourage survey participation, recruit panelists or to pose survey questions. (Be cautious about conclusions from samples that may not represent the entire city.)

3. Opt-in Web Surveys

Anyone is invited to complete a web survey. Recruitment can come simply by posting a link on the city website or elsewhere. There are ways to limit response to residents of your jurisdiction and with proper weighting. These survey findings may be integrated into traditional probability sample results to increase sample size while keeping representation of the entire community

4. Recruited Web Surveys

Randomly selected residents receive a mail invitation to participate in a web survey whose link is included in the mailing. Response rates often are low for this kind of recruitment but with the right publicity may work well enough as a back up to traditional methods.

5. Texted Surveys

Short surveys that can be completed in text messages are sent to residents who opt in to participate. This option should be part of all the others listed above, with cautions to adhere to FCC rules.

6. Matrix Sampling

Long questionnaires diminish response rates. So to combat attrition of potential participants, administer about one-fourth of a longer survey each quarter to a different random sample of residents.


This is part two of five in our series: Survey Research Revolution.

Read Part One

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