Schottler Consulting Social and Market Research Knowledge Centre
How should I present survey results?
Before rushing into a research report, it is first useful to look back at the measurement framework you've developed as part of the research design. Then ask yourself if you can issue your survey data in this same format, or perhaps group together the measurement constructs into smaller number of major report sections.
The next step involves issuing survey graphs and charts. While complex multivariate analysis is very useful to condense survey data, it is still important to issue general tables of results. These may consist of typically percentages, means (averages) or similar for both overall findings and any sub-groups of interest.
There is also an art in presenting data in graphs and charts in a clear manner. In graphing survey results, it is particularly important to include appropriate labelling and descriptions.
Tips for success
As a standard for graphical results, we typically recommend the following to include on each survey graph:
Graph title – a clear description of what is being measured including references to time frames where needed
The sample size – use of N typically denotes the size of the sample
Use of appropriate value labels – ensuring that relevant labels are included, as used in the survey measures
Base – this is the group on which the measure is based – for instance, some questions may be asked of all respondents, while others may be asked of just males aged between 18-25 years
Date of data collection – this is particularly useful so that results can be referred to in the future and it is immediately understood when the data was gathered. This is especially important for regular or longitudinal surveys
Question – it can also be useful to provide the specific survey question at the bottom of each graph to allow results to be more easily interpreted and understood by readers
Use of figure titles (e.g., Figure 1) – if cross-references are used (as is possible in even Microsoft Word), this also allows automatic generation of a list of figures and tables and helps ensure that figure and table numbers change if new figures are added
Placing figures in a table can also sometimes assist with their placement in the text and can help keep figure titles with figures
An example of a survey graph with labelling is below.