Many arts and cultural organisations utilise research and evaluation to enable them to make evidence-based decisions, and this often includes the use of audience or member surveys, or feedback forms, to gather information. In this short article, research consultant Ruth Stevenson discusses the merits of carefully designed, concise questionnaires and the benefits for the researcher and the respondent.
What I’m saying is it isn’t about how much you ask, but rather it is about asking the right questions to the right people and undertaking the right analysis. In situations such as these you could ask more questions but often there is no need. And if there is no need, it is ethically more appropriate not to.
Keeping the questionnaire as short as possible benefits the respondent because it means you are not wasting their time, or harvesting their innermost personal thoughts for no good reason. A shorter questionnaire takes less time to fill in, which tends to result in better respondent engagement and better completion rates than you might have got from a longer one. Usually, these outcomes are seen as being a good thing by researcher and respondent alike.