Why scripting is more than just scripting

Online surveys can be run in-house on specialist software or outsourced to a third party.  The process of setting up a survey online is called scripting, and this can appear very straightforward.  But in practice it can take a lot of time, and it is also not the only activity involved in running an online survey.

So here we take a quick look at why scripting is more than just scripting.

You receive a questionnaire in Word and begin scripting. In theory this is easy, but in practice it almost always takes longer than you would expect, mainly because of queries you will have about the questionnaire, and because of the inevitable changes, which can arise during scripting or after.  It takes time to ensure that you have made all the requested changes and that everything is correct.

Images or videos
These can take a lot of time, going backwards and forwards with the client testing different sizes, making sure they all display sufficiently clearly on different devices for example. You may well be asked to crop, re-size or combine images, or add text to them. And they may be needed in different sizes for different questions.

If you are using a panel to provide sample then usually you will need to script quotas into your online questionnaire.  Basically these limit the number of different groups of respondents, so your survey results contain, for example, the 50% males and 50% females that you require.

Plausibility checks
For example, if you have a question which asks respondents to give 3 responses to a question then you will need to script a plausibility check to bring up a message for those people who select more or fewer than three answers.  Or if you have an open-ended which asks people how much they spend per week on something, you may want a plausibility check for ridiculous answers. And there are many other examples.

Even if you are using a panel to provide the sample, you still need to be involved in fieldwork. This includes monitoring length of interview and incidence rate, checking the soft launch results, keeping an eye on quotas, requesting more mail outs by the panel, etc…

Data cleaning
Some respondents will have raced through your questionnaire, so you may well decide you want to exclude their responses.  Otherwise you run the risk of there being anomalies in the results, which may only come to light during the de-brief presentation.

Coding and tabulation
And finally, once the data has been collected, there will be the analysis and interpretation of results.