Considerations for a Web-Based Survey Software Platform:
CHAMP’s Choice for Its Content Analysis
A researcher interested in running their own content analysis might ask why and how we chose our survey software?
In order to efficiently synthesize and effectively analyze large amounts of data coded by numerous students on multiple workstations over the course of several years, we must ensure the collection process runs as smoothly as possible. Additionally, data integrity is paramount to our project’s goals. In response to these necessities, we chose to implement a survey software system called Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) Continuum from the Vovici Corporation that was flexible enough to be programmed and updated as our needs evolved, yet robust enough to ensure proper data storage and retrieval.
EFM Continuum is a suite of tools that allows for web-based survey creation, user specifications, and data management as well as additional capabilities. Due to the scope and nature of CHAMP, we found EFM Continuum best suited to realize the goals of our project. Although Vovici’s product met our needs, a professional edition of survey software is not appropriate for every project. Researchers must evaluate the feasibility of implementing such a system by evaluating the costs and benefits of purchasing, programming, and hosting software. For example, other survey platforms with fewer features would be more economical for smaller projects. Investigators in need of more stringent security may opt for conducting surveys offline instead of on the web. Other researchers may want additional programming capabilities and thus look elsewhere for their survey software.
Investigators should consider the users of the software as well. This consideration is not limited to the coders who will input the data, but also those responsible for creating the survey. Every user interface is different and it’s imperative that researchers are aware of the limitations presented by a simple point-and-click interface versus a syntax-based design. Time spent learning to operate a program should not detract from a researcher’s ability to conduct his or her content analysis. Ultimately, the selected system should include all the necessary features to complete the project’s goals without negatively affecting the coders’ ability to collect data or creating undue hardship on the project managers and their staff.
Our best advice: whenever possible, keep it simple.
EFM Continuum’s features benefited CHAMP in several ways:
Logic-based programming During the survey creation process, we can implement various skip patterns based on user input to create a more streamlined coding experience. By having to answer only relevant follow-up questions, our coders’ time is spent productively and efficiently.
Dynamic editing Whenever updates are required, such as implementing new questions or clarifying wording, the program reflects these changes in the survey immediately without disrupting the coders or interfering with the data arrangement. This dynamic interaction saves programming time and ensures that data remain organized.
Web-based solution All surveys are run on a web browser via an Internet connection, which eliminates the need to install the program on multiple computers. Although coding can take place at any computer with web access, we restrict coders to work exclusively in-house.
User restrictions Only users with specific accounts may access the surveys. Coders working on different project phases cannot enter data for surveys they are not assigned, which eliminates any accidental inclusion of incongruous data.
Server-side data storage All data are collected and stored on local servers administered by support staff. Data back-up procedures occur at regular intervals. Project administrators can retrieve the data through an easy web-based user interface without having to rely on third-party assistance.
Remember to research different products and consider all options. We make no financial gain from and are merely describing the survey platform Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) Continuum from the Vovici Corporation because we believe it met the needs of our project.