Before you ever step into the field to collect data, it's important to design the right instrument that will answer your research questions and provide the information you need to move forward.
The data collection instrument is the methodology used to identify information sources and collect data (e.g. public intercept surveys, key informant interviews, focus groups). The instrument is often a survey, observation form, or interview guide, and comes with specifications for how to use the instrument.
Starting Instruments from Scratch
If you plan to develop your own instruments or adapt existing tools, explore these resources on instrument design, types of questions, and sequencing first so you end up with the data that will answer your evaluation questions.
- End-use Strategizing for Creating Data Collection Instruments
- Some Thoughts on Writing Questions — The Dillman Principles
- Golden Rules for Designing Effective Surveys
- Elements of Good Survey Design (38:49)
- Creating Interview Questions
- Community Engagement
- Multi-unit Housing Objectives
- Materials and Instrument Testing
- Media Activity Records
- Needs Assessments
- Participation Logs, Membership Participation Records, and Diversity Matrices
- Policy Record Reviews and the Policymaking Environment
- Retail Objectives
- Social Media and Website Traffic
- Secondhand Smoke Objectives
- Training Activities
Searching Our Instrument Database
Seeking ideas about how to word a question or gather information about a particular tobacco control issue? You can search and download the surveys, observation forms, focus group guides and key informant interview protocols that we have collected from tobacco control projects over the years. Click here to begin.
Using Our Online Coalition Survey
If you are a California tobacco control program looking for a satisfaction survey to use with your coalition, consider using our easy-to-use online survey. Here's a sample of what it includes. If you'd like to use it and it hasn’t already been shared with your SurveyAnalytics account, contact us and we'll share the folder in your account. From there, you can copy and customize the survey to fit your needs, send out a link to your coalition and analyze the data in a format of your choosing. It's a fast and convenient way to conduct your coalition survey!
The last but most important step in developing instruments is testing them to make sure they are understood by participants in the way that you intend.
For ideas on how to train your data collection team, see Data Collector Training.