Researchers: remember, honesty is the best policy

A tale of three types of cheating. If you are going to fudge the numbers, you’d better be very clever. Last December’s Annual Year in Ideas issue of the New York Times magazine included an idea titled “Forensic Polling Analysis” describing how Nate Silver analyzed results published by a polling firm called Strategic Vision. Silver […]

Correlation isn’t Causality

I came across a published report recently that made me wonder why people persist in reporting that there is a causal relationship when the data doesn’t justify the assertion. Actually, the reasons aren’t all that hard to figure out. Usually, it’s because the relationship seems obvious, and sometimes it is when the person writing the […]

Real-world or real-life? What does it mean for recommendations?

The press release for a study by Mintel, a world-wide market research firm, states that “people still prefer real-life recommendations to online“. The study was intended to test the idea that real-world referrals are still more important than those received online.  Mintel’s results show that only 5% of people buy based on suggestions from bloggers […]

P&G ad banned for bad survey and misleading claims

Proctor and Gamble UK has been forced to pull a TV ad due to misleading claims based on a poorly designed survey. The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority felt that the survey results were too likely to biased by the invitation process, which included providing free samples of Clairol Nice ‘n’ Easy (the advertised product) prior […]

SurveyTip: Think about the number of pages in your survey

Have you seen surveys where every question, no matter how trivial, is on a different page?  Or how about surveys that are just a single long page with many questions? Neither approach is optimal.  They don’t look great to your primary customer — the survey taker — perhaps reducing your response rate. What’s more, you […]

SurveyTip: Randomizing question answers is generally a good idea

Showing question answers in a random order reduces the risk of bias from the position.   To understand this, think of what happens when you are asked to choose a question by a telephone interviewer.  When the list of choices are presented for a single choice question, you might be think of the first option as […]

Hyatt’s “random acts of generosity” – good idea or off target?

Sunday’s New York Times Magazine has an article about a new program being introduced by the Hyatt hotel chain intended to stimulate real loyalty in the form of future business through gratitude generated by generous acts such as having a bar tab waived randomly. It isn’t totally clear how closely the new program is associated […]

SurveyTip: Get to the point, but be polite

A survey should aim to be like a conversation.  Online surveys don’t have humans involved to listen to how someone feels about the survey, to reword for clarity or to encourage, so you have to work harder to generate comfort.  Although you don’t want to take too long (the number one complaint of survey takers […]

Research on newspapers, classified ads

A couple of interesting studies relating on newspaper issues have recently come across my screen.  Combine with continuing speculation on how long the Seattle Times will last, and the segment on the Daily Show about the New York Times last week, it’s time to share. The Pew Internet and American Life study on online classifieds […]

Today’s tortured questionnaire wording

I just have to share this in the hope that a reader will be able to enlighten me.  What could this possibly mean? Not a provider that I would think of at first, but I probably would not consider it OK, let me give some context. This is from a survey on business internet services. […]

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