Dissemination of findings
The last phase to plan for in a survey is the communication of findings to respondents, to any partners and institutions with which the data were collected, and to participating interviewers.
Once the survey is complete, the labour of studying and disseminating findings begins. The methodological lessons learned from each particular survey are regularly presented, discussed and publicized in specialized conferences and may lead to joint publications by the research teams and INED’s Surveys Department.
Communicating survey findings to respondents and interviewers
This is an important aspect of post-survey activity. It is of course a means of thanking the people who helped with the study, but it also provides an opportunity to communicate the survey objectives and results to an audience that is not necessarily familiar with demographic research. Respondents may be more willing to take part if they knowing that the survey findings will be communicated to them afterwards. In longitudinal surveys, findings are communicated to respondents as those results come in, and this becomes an integral part of the operations to follow up and maintain contact with respondents (and hence to limit attrition). Overall, communicating results to survey participants is a way of ensuring that the general population views surveys in a favourable light.
This undertaking should of course be tailored to the persons or groups in question and the contexts in which the research was conducted. It may take many, creative forms: a regular information bulletin sent out to respondents, posters and brochures left in places respondents are likely to visit or pass through, meetings with respondents and/or research partners to present the survey findings, slideshows or films (notably for illiterate survey populations), readily accessible information on a website, information to respondents about radio programmes in which researchers will be discussing the survey findings, sending out of publications, etc.
Keeping abreast of scientific progress in survey methods and disseminating methodological advances
Members of INED’s Surveys Department regularly participate in national and international conferences, both to disseminate and publicize INED surveys and findings and to keep abreast of methodological studies and advances in survey techniques.
The meetings cover a wide range of questions on methods and survey data quality, from sampling techniques to measuring non-response, from questionnaire design to assessing data quality and field procedures, from longitudinal surveys to surveying sensitive populations or investigating sensitive topics.
Survey methods are also disseminated and publicized by means of articles, reports and working papers written jointly by researchers and Surveys Department members.
Disseminating survey data
Now that access to survey data has become easier, survey data visibility and reuse should increase. This work is facilitated by the development of new technologies, by INED’s collaboration with the Réseau Quetelet and by the regular participation of Surveys Department members in international conferences and networks on data archiving and means of making data available to researchers and institutions (International Association for Social Science Information Service and Technology or IASSIST and the Council of European Social Science Data Archives or CESSDA).
To get the most out of survey data and disseminate their findings, it is also important to use and reuse them. This can be done by citing them; i.e., systematically noting the survey name and year and the survey-producing institution in any tables and graphs that use information from that survey in a research paper. In return, clear and complete citing of data used will favourably impact on assessments of the research in question.