Tagged: Survey Monkey

Technology Review: Survey Monkey

SurveyMonkey calls itself “the world’s leading provider of web-based survey solutions” (http://www.surveymonkey.com/AboutUs.aspx). The company provides the ability for individuals, groups, and companies to create surveys, distribute them, and receive and analyze the results. The basic service is free and includes survey design features, data collection features, and analysis features. Basic survey design allows an unlimited number of surveys of up to ten questions each, 15 question types, and many survey templates and themes. Basic service also includes up to 100 responses per survey and various ways to collect responses, and results are available in real time. For a monthly fee, the plan can be upgraded to either Pro or Unlimited which allow for longer surveys, more responses, and more survey creation, response collection, and reporting and analysis features. An important aspect of the Pro and Unlimited Plans is skip logic which results in better surveys and therefore more useable results. A participant’s answer to a question can determine which question will come next, creating a survey more relevant to the individual.

Originally, I had a few doubts about the use of SurveyMonkey in libraries. First, I have taken many poorly designed surveys, and I wondered if SurveyMonkey helped its clients write effective surveys. Fortunately, SurveyMonkey offers both a 35-page PDF entitled “Smart Survey Design” and a tutorial about writing an effective survey that does not include leading questions, loaded questions, assumptions, jargon, and double questions. A second doubt I had was about privacy since libraries strictly guard patron confidentiality. SurveyMonkey has a newly revised (June 23, 2010) privacy policy that addresses issues of information collection, use, and sharing. SurveyMonkey could, in fact, be useful in many ways to an academic library. Patron use preferences could be polled. For example, to decide what hours a library should be open, a survey could be used to determine when patrons want to use the library. A survey could also be used to measure patron satisfaction with library services. For example, a patron who made use of remote reference services could be asked to complete a survey about how well the reference question was answered and whether the patron would be likely to use the service again. A survey could also be useful for collection development. It would be possible to find out what types of materials students and faculty wanted to use but couldn’t because that were not available in the library’s collection. Since my doubts have been addressed and SurveyMonkey can be used in an academic library in many ways, the only suggestion I have to improve SurveyMonkey is to make it more affordable, to make the pricing more flexible, or to include more features in the Basic plan. The pricing structure is designed to charge the customer monthly, and this is not economical if a library wants to use surveys less often than once a month. In this case, the library would be better off using the free Basic plan (which definitely fits a library budget), but the library would miss out on some of SurveyMonkey’s best features. An additional pricing option could include the possibility of using SurveyMonkey a certain number of times for a flat fee. Better yet, the free Basic plan should include more features.