If you have made it this far, congratulations! You have done great work and should be proud. But there is still one last step that is important to take if you want your survey to make an impact in your organization and your community: We've analyzed the data, but how do we get people to pay attention to our findings? Reporting your analysis is one of the most important, but often overlooked, steps in conducting surveys.
Too often, organizations and individuals conduct important research, but their findings end up stuffed away in an office drawer and have little impact on their organization or on others. Don't let this happen! Your survey findings can be useful for your own organization, for the work of others in the community, and as a way to apply for funds or seek out new partnerships. Here are a few basic tips on ways to draw attention to the results of your hard work.
First thing is first – after all of the work that you have put into your research, from conceptualizing a research question to analyzing your data, be sure to write it all down. Working on a document that details the entire process helps the researcher better understand their findings, and is the first way to inform others about what you have learned. When possible, a report should have a nice graphic layout and should be made available both in print and on the internet.
Often times with survey results, one or two findings are more than enough to get the attention of others and to prove a point. Do not feel obligated to report on every single finding. While writing up an in-depth final report is useful, here are a few other venues where more targeted findings can be discussed and distributed:
There are a number of different ways you can go about organizing a final report of document, but here is a suggested outline:
An abstract is a brief summation of your project – usually no longer than one paragraph – that states the research question, the method used, and a few of the main findings. It should be clear and extremely concise.
An Executive Summary is more in-depth than an abstract – usually two to three pages – and mirrors the contents of your larger report. The executive summary should include a brief introduction, description of your method and a few main findings, followed by a brief discussion that highlights important things learned and directions for future research or action. The executive summary should be easy to read and engaging. The executive summary should be able to stand on its own, since many people will not read the entire report. You might even want to distribute these executive summaries as a separate document to certain individuals or organizations who prefer a shorter format.
2. Previous Research
4. Results and Analysis
5. Discussion and Conclusions
Where possible, the appendix should include any research instruments you used, like your survey questions. Any other relevant documents that readers might want to refer to should also be included here.