5 Terms All Surveyors Should Know

What are the top research terms surveyors should know?

  1. Accessible: Accessible surveys are those that can be answered in multiple ways.
  2. Bias: Refers to bias that leads to inaccurate data due to the lack of quality in the survey tool and/or respondents.
  3. Crosstab data analysis: Also known as cross-tab, this is to quickly see trends based on data gathered from two or more questions.
  4. Panel: This is a paid group of respondents that are usually gathered to test and give feedback regarding a new product or service in a controlled environment.
  5. Piping: A method that can reduce survey fatigue by asking next questions based on answers from previous questions.


While being knowledgeable in the best website survey tools is useful, surveyors must also be responsible in knowing the common terms in the world of research. Learning them will aid them in working well with their fellow researchers and surveyors.

The following are the top 5 terms that they should know:



  • Adjective \ik-ˈse-sə-bəl, ak-, ek-\

The dictionary meaning of the word is to be able reach, approach, use, or obtain. In terms of surveys, one is accessible when it is well designed and compliant with the Section 508 Guidelines. These are the guidelines that were made so that Federal agencies can create their EIT (electronic and information technology) in a way that is physically accessible to people of different levels of capabilities. These guidelines are so useful that they are adopted even by software companies.

One can say that a survey is accessible when it works for all respondents’ preferences. This means that it should be available to be used and answered via traditional methods, keyboard without a mouse, speech to text software, and screen readers. In order for a surveyor to be able to comply with this, he must be aware of how fonts, ALT text, interactions, and question types affect the technical experience of a respondent.



  • Noun \ˈbī-əs\

Based on the dictionary term, this refers to a person’s tendency to treat others unfairly because of a predisposed idea that they are lesser people. However, this is different from the meaning of bias in terms of surveys.

In surveys, bias means a reaction of respondents to surveys that lead them to – whether intentionally or unintentionally – give inaccurate answers. The collection of such data will lead to inaccurate conclusions as well.

There are two relevant types of bias in surveys: response bias and non-response bias.

  • Response bias (also known as Hawthorne effect) is the inaccuracy of data because of the lack of quality in questions or available answers. This happens when the questions and answers of surveys are not in a way that is favorable to the gathering of desired data. For example, when a survey asks “What is your favorite sport?” then the answers that will be gathered will be significantly different from when a survey asks “Is basketball your favorite sport?” Because of this, questions must always be worded neutrally to allow respondents to answer truthfully. Also, it is strongly recommended to add an “Other” option so that respondents have flexibility for broad questions. Doing so will ensure the collection of quality data.
  • Non-response bias, on the other hand, refers to the bias related to the quality of respondents instead of the quality of the survey tool. An example of such is when a survey’s goal is to gather data from basketball fans. Having baseball fans answer this will yield inaccurate results and is just down right unintelligent. In general, a survey must be conducted to an appropriate group or sample of people that are significant to its goals to avoid non-response bias.


Crosstab Data Analysis

  • Noun \ˈkrȯs\ \ˈtab\

This is the type of analysis that uses a contingency table to get to its conclusions. This is one of the go-to methods market researchers use when they need to show the relationship between two or more variables when doing categorical analysis. With Crosstab Data Analysis, also known as cross-tab, the correlations between said variables can be quickly determined, which may not be so obvious when trying to absorb the data in different methods.

Simply, when researchers use a crosstab report, they are allowed to analyze two questions at once; one for the vertical vector and the other for the horizontal one. This will bring out trends and patterns of the respondents that are surveyed.


  • Noun \ˈpa-nəl\

Usually, a panel refers to a group of people, who are responsible for answering questions, giving advice and opinions, and/or discussing a topic for an audience. For research, a survey panel is a group of people, who have shown willingness to participate in surveys. They are usually paid for the time and effort that they give in doing so. A panel is the organization that conducts these surveys to the survey panel and they also usually require a fee to access their audience.

One may ask why a panel is needed. This is useful for businesses that are starting a new service or creating a new product. A regular survey cannot be conducted because there are no current customers that consume these offers. Therefore, using a panel is useful here. Offering them money makes it worth their while so numerous specific questions can be asked in order to get the most accurate data.



  • Noun \pī′pĭng\

Piping basically means to populate a survey’s content by using data gathered from a previous survey.  For online surveys, it’s a confusing term because there is no actual pipe, but it simply means constructing the next questions/popups by using previous answers. An example of this is thanking the respondent with his actual name after he has finished answering a survey. This can be done when it requires the respondent to input his name before sending.

This is a great way to reduce survey fatigue because the amount of data the respondent needs to enter is greatly reduced. Based on the answers they give in the first question(s), surveyors could lead them to a question that is more relatable to respondents and relevant to surveyors.


Key Takeaway

Familiarizing yourself with these research terms is important in surveys. This is not just because of efficient communication, it will also enable you to be aware of the different practices you might encounter, when conducting a survey.

Eventually, knowing all of them will help you get the needed answers to your research.

Sean Si is the CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker and Qeryz. A start-up, data analysis and urgency junkie who spends his time inspiring young entrepreneurs through talks and seminars. Check out his personal blog where he writes about starting up two companies and life in general.

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