Survey tools during pandemic -Selecting the right data collection strategy during periods of uncertainties

Survey tools during pandemic -Selecting the right data collection strategy during periods of uncertainties

Collecting data during the Covid 19 era or any pandemic could be time-consuming and risky. To collect data for a study, one must be extremely cautious while also employing sound procedures. Conducting a Face-to-face survey is the method mostly used by many researchers to collect data for their study.

Nevertheless, this method of data collection has not gone well during the period of covid 19. One of the reasons is that the researcher must adhere to the social distance measures imposed by the government for safety. We must change our operations in light of the danger of infection and the circumstances in which data-gathering activities are carried out. The tactics for data collecting throughout the time of Covid 19 are listed below.

Data collection strategy in the period of Covid-19 or any Pandemic

  • Phone-based household or community-level data collection

Most researchers in the post-Covid 19 periods have adopted this form of remote data gathering strategy. Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) is another name for it (CATI). This approach involves the use of an electronic application on smartphones or computers as an electronic device to present questions to respondents. The respondents read the questions and provides the answer using this device.

This strategy usually entails the establishment of “call centres” from which enumerators call respondents. This method is usually used when conducting an interview. Given the current warnings on limiting the spread of COVID-19, however, “call centres” may not be suggested depending on risk levels in the nation.

This data-collecting approach may also be carried out utilizing Voice over Internet Protocol. The use of VoIP has been of great benefit to researchers and organizations since it has more useful features than the usual phone method. Call recording, personalized caller ID, and voicemail to e-mail are examples of these functions. It is also beneficial to researchers as a means of bringing replies together.

This method may be useful for both probability and nonprobability sampling (purposive and snowballing).

  • Internet-based data collection

This method of data collection entails the use of internet-based communication channels, such as online polls, social media platforms, WhatsApp as well as other messaging platforms, to obtain the needed information without having to talk with the responder.

Social media assessment and monitoring, distribution of online survey connections via email, social media, messaging, and other communication platforms such as Facebook or other social media platforms, and chatbots (a computer program that uses artificial intelligence to constantly communicate through a messaging platform in a way that is developed to appear as a conversation) are some of the tools used for this type of data collection.

  • Short message service (SMS)

SMS services provide consumers with a high level of privacy and transparency. Short message service gives room for being created or implemented in different languages depending on the immediate need of the survey. For this approach, respondents must be educated enough to use this method.

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Hence, this method can make the respondents feel reluctant to provide responses to the survey questions, leading to a low response rate.

Measures to be taken during data collection in a period of covid 19 or any pandemic

Collecting data during the pandemic requires that certain measures be followed, which include

  • Reminding team members  of the general guidelines and processes every morning
  • Approach participants for interviews/discussions in compliance with regulatory measures, which include clearly notifying respondents of COVID-19 measures based on existing guidelines and messaging in the country prior to commencing the question and answer session, maintaining the approved distance (at least 1 meter) when addressing respondents, and avoiding physical contact (handshaking, hugging, etc.) to welcome respondents. Explain why you’re doing this because it could be seen as culturally incorrect.
  • Undertake the survey in accordance with the specified measures in general, which include implementing the interview/ discussion outside (if possible), keeping at least a 1-meter distance from other people throughout, particularly the respondents, not coming in contact with anything within the sites you are visiting, and avoiding contact with the aged or people with chronic diseases if possible. Maintain a safe distance from other members of the family when conducting household surveys. If you’re requested to come inside and you can’t keep a safe distance, take the responder outside or end the interview. Maintain a safe distance from everyone other than the key informant (KI) during the interview. When conducting a focus group discussion (FGD), keep respondents at least 1 meter apart and carry out the interview outdoors unless there is a spacious room with enough airflow.
  • Ensure that guidelines are followed across the team, not simply between the data collectors and interviewees during the interview or conversation. This is accomplished by not passing on items like bottles, pencils, phones, flyers, and so on to others. If this is the case, wash your hands and clean the object down well with disinfection gel, avoid drinking or eating from the same containers, and don’t use other people’s utilities. Hands should be washed with soap or sanitiser as directed by WHO and/or national authorities.

Measures to be taken after data collection in period of covid 19 or any pandemic

After data collection, the following measures should be observed

  • Ensure that all employees coming from data collection (interviewers, drivers, etc.) wash their hands adequately with soap and running water.
  • Ascertain that interviewers are communicating with the line managers in accordance with the guidelines. Any health symptoms, such as a high fever (over 37.5), or any other moderate symptoms, such as weariness, dry cough, short breath, aches, sore throat, or runny nose, should be reported to team leaders (other symptoms). If any of your employees are having symptoms, they should self-quarantine for at least 14 days or until they have fully healed. Enumerators should double-check their location and report any interactions with interviewees who have fever, cough, or shortness of breath. In the planning phase, the field manager should write a daily report on any encounter with a respondent who showed signs of fever, cough, or shortness of breath, which should be provided to the Area Coordinator and Country Management (i.e. prior to data collection).
  • Ensure that enumerators submit their data and that data-collecting equipment is cleaned on a regular basis. Before returning any gadgets, enumerators should clean them with disinfectant or soap and water and place them in a secured place with their names printed on them. This is done to keep gadgets from changing hands as much as possible.
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Selecting the right data collection strategy during periods of uncertainties

Have you ever thought about what the best survey instrument would be, particularly in the event of a pandemic or uncertainty? Because of the conditions surrounding a pandemic, your choice of the research survey instrument is critical. There are several ways to do research, but determining which methods will best enable the researcher to attain the research’s purpose is critical.

Choices that may seem reasonable within the context of a typical study might appear strange and off-putting outside of it, particularly during times of epidemic and uncertainty. In order to conduct an academic study, the best survey tools make collecting information from respondents simple and easy.

Generally, the different research survey tools are as follows;

 Online surveys:

One of the most popular types is an online survey. Internet Survey tools are online tools that may be used to collect answers or replies to questions from a target population in an electronic format. They include a wide range of questions kinds, such as multiple-choice, ranking, open-ended, and more. An online survey is getting increasingly widespread as technology advances by leaps and bounds.

This survey contains survey questions that may be conveniently distributed to respondents by email or by allowing them to access the survey if they have access to the internet.

These surveys are simple to create and deliver. Respondents are given enough time and space to complete these questionnaires, ensuring that researchers receive unbiased results. Data can be obtained and evaluated fast, and they are less costly.

Questionnaire survey

A questionnaire is often a paper-and-pencil tool that is given to respondents. Closed-ended questions with answer possibilities are the most common type of question seen in questionnaires. There are, however, certain questionnaires that offer open-ended questions to elicit responses from respondents.

Over time, questionnaires have been created. Questionnaires are now used in a variety of survey approaches, depending on how they are distributed. Self-administered, group-administered, and household drop-off are examples of these techniques. Researchers currently frequently utilize the self-administered survey approach among the three.

The postal survey approach is commonly known as self-administered questionnaires. However, because postal surveys have poor response rates, questionnaires are increasingly widely delivered online in the form of web surveys.

Paper surveys:

This poll employs the classic paper and pencil method, as the name implies. Many people assume that paper surveys are no longer used. They are, nonetheless, extremely useful for field research and data collecting. Computers, laptops, and other portable devices cannot travel where these surveys tool can.

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There is also a negative aspect to it. The most expensive technique of data collecting is through this sort of survey. It entails devoting a significant amount of human resources, as well as time and money.

  1. Telephone surveys: telephone surveys are conducted by researchers over the phone. Respondents must answer the researcher’s questions about the research topic. These polls take time and aren’t always conclusive. The effectiveness of these initiatives is contingent on the number of individuals who answer the phone and are willing to spend time answering queries over the phone.

  2. One-on-one interviews: A one-on-one interview allows researchers to obtain data from a respondent first-hand. It’s a qualitative research approach that relies on a researcher’s expertise and experience to formulate and ask pertinent questions one after the other in order to gather significant insights from the interview. These meetings might take anything from 30 minutes to many hours.

A researcher can conduct research studies using online platforms such as Short Message Service (SMS), online surveys (web), computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI), and interactive voice response (IVR) in the face of the covid 19 pandemic and uncertainties.

  • SMS service

SMS services provide consumers with a high level of anonymity and accessibility. Like traditional face-to-face surveys, they may be created and implemented in a variety of languages. Respondents would, however, need to be literate and familiar with SMS to use this strategy. When dealing with uneducated respondents, research reveals that survey participants lose interest in SMS surveys more rapidly, resulting in a high percentage of survey non-response.

  • Telephone surveys

Computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) is a technique for conducting telephone surveys in which the interviewer follows a script given by a software application. It’s a structured telephone-based microdata collecting method that allows the interviewer to educate respondents on the need for timely and correct data while simultaneously speeding up the collection and editing of microdata.

The program may tailor the flow of the questionnaire based on the responses given as well as information previously available about the participant. This strategy works with any phone and doesn’t require responders to be literate. CATI offers greater response rates than SMS and online surveys, although it is more costly.

  • The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) survey

The Interactive Voice Response survey is a pre-recorded automated phone survey in which the respondent answers questions either audibly or numerically using a keypad. They allow for the remote collection of survey data without putting enumerators or respondents in risk. Although IVR surveys are less expensive, the time it takes from survey deployment to project completion is often longer.

COVID-19 has spawned a slew of new and urgent demands, putting a strain on many researchers. As the years pass, so do the methods and tactics for conducting surveys. There are a variety of survey tools available to respond to your specific COVID-19 situation, and perhaps this blog will assist you in finding the correct tools for you.


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