Survey glossary

We've compiled a glossary of the common terms you will come across when working on a survey project with Insync Surveys. This handy guide allows our clients to be more familiar with survey speak and make the most of their survey results and action plans.

360 feedback
Action plan
Action planning portal
Alignment
Analysis
Attrition
Baseline data
Benchmark
Bi-variate scale
Branching
CATI
Confidentiality
Confidence level
Culture
Custom survey
Customer survey
De-identified data
Demographics
Demographic class
Depth interview
Diversity
Drivers
Employee engagement
Employee satisfaction
Employee survey
Entry survey
Ethics
Exit interview
Factors
Facilitator
Focus group
Go-live
Hidden demographics
Hostile respondent
Incentive
In field

KPI
Launch date
Likert scale
Mean
Methodology
"The Method"
Multiple choice question
Open-ended question
Percentage favourable
Pilot survey
Portal
Pre-survey communications
Project plan
Qualitative research
Quality assurance
Quantitative research
Quartiles
Ranking
Raw data
Regression analysis
Representative sample
Respondent
Retention
Sample
Self-selection survey
Significance
Staff satisfaction survey
Staff turnover
Survey item
Survey fatigue
Target population
Thematic analysis
Transcript
Uni-variate scale
Verbatim comment
Voluntary participation
Welcome page


360 feedback
A leadership development survey where colleagues provide feedback so the participant's emotional engagement and competencies can be improved in line with the organisation's direction.

Learn more about 360 feedback

Top


Action plan
Translating survey findings (answers) into actions (improvement initiatives) in a structured way, resulting in steps to achieve goals for improving organisational performance.

Top


Action planning portal
A secure and private online facility hosted by Insync Surveys to review the organisation's survey results and improve them by committing to tasks.

Top


Alignment
Day-to-day employee operations that are in tune with the organisation's direction and strategy.

Top


Analysis
The interpretation of raw survey data into meaningful insights which are used to inform actions. Statistical analysis uses the application of mathematical models to assess the levels of significance of findings and to determine the degree of significance with other supporting evidence which adds weight to the credibility of survey findings.

Top


Attrition
A reduction or decrease in numbers of staff within an organisation. It may be interesting for an organisation to understand why attrition rates are high. An exit interview tool captures departing employees' opinions so the organisation can devise initiatives to reduce employee attrition and increase employee engagement to save money and/or boost productivity.

Top


Baseline data
Survey data that can be used for comparison or reference purposes. The first time a survey is conducted will establish a baseline from which the organisation can build.

Top


Benchmark
Results compared to a group of other organisations that have conducted the same survey in a recent timeframe. A benchmark may be composed of similar organisations' results in the same industry, or all organisations in Insync Surveys' benchmark database.

Top


Bi-variate scale
Compares two factors across the same survey items to generate a gap score. A bi-variate scale usually comprises "importance" and "performance" scales. It measures how "important" a survey concept is to respondents, then compares how the organisation is perceived to be "performing" against the same survey item. A gap score can then be measured. A significant gap between importance and performance signifies a potential improvement opportunity.

Top


Branching
Allows certain questions to be asked based on the respondent's response to the previous question. Branching within a survey allows different questions to be asked of various groups and can also simplify the layout of the survey for those completing it.

Top


CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing)
This research method provides a script for the interviewer to follow during a telephone interview and answers that the respondent provides will then shape which questions come next. The interviews are documented in this system.

Top


Confidentiality
An integral part of conducting any survey is protecting the participants' anonymity. Surveys should be designed with informed consent and confidentiality in mind. To this end, survey data is typically analysed based on aggregate responses.

Top


Confidence level
The degree to which one can be confident that the data reflects the true opinion of the sample group and that results are not due to chance. Most research operates on a 95% confidence level.

Top


Culture
The set of shared beliefs, values, goals and practices that characterises an organisation.

Top


Custom survey
A survey that is designed to meet the customer's unique needs. Custom surveys can be developed when the client's requirements fall outside the scope of our standard suite of products.

Learn more about custom surveys

Top


Customer survey
A survey sent to a selected segment of customers which measures perceptions, satisfaction and engagement with an organisation and their products and services. In addition it can make predictions about customers' future purchasing behaviour and advocacy.

Learn more about customer surveys

Top


De-identified data
data which bears no names or any part of a response that will make a individual respondent easily identifiable.

Top


Demographics
The different groups of survey participants e.g. job level, gender, age range, etc. Demographics shape the degree of detail that survey data can generate.

Top


Demographic class
The sub-categories of demographics, e.g. "female" would be a demographic class of the demographic "gender".

Top


Depth interview
This may be face-to-face, over the telephone or with video software. A "depth" is a structured conversation to inform specific research objectives e.g. to flesh out or validate survey findings.

Top


Diversity
The degree to which an organisation supports differences between employees based on culture, ethnicity, gender etc.

Learn more about gender diversity in the workplace

Top


Drivers
Things that can be manipulated to have a positive effect on something else.  E.g. there are drivers that help improve employee engagement but they do not engage employees directly. Therefore, targeting improvement initiatives on the drivers of engagement may help to boost employee engagement.

Top


Employee engagement
The extent to which employees engage in a personally meaningful, mentally active and productive manner at work, consisting of three inter-related components:

  • the heart: The extent to which employees are emotionally engaged with the organisation, comprising job satisfaction, pride in and commitment to the organisation
  • the head: The extent to which employees carry a positive frame of mind at work, comprising enthusiasm for work, belief in the importance of contributing to the success of the organisation, and resilience when facing challenges at work
  • the hand: The extent to which employees engage in discretionary effort towards the benefit of the organisation, comprising the intention to go above and beyond basic role requirements, altruism towards colleagues, and willingness to share knowledge and experience

Learn more about employee engagement

Top


Employee satisfaction
An organisation's ability to fulfil the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of its employees.

Top


Employee survey
Surveys individuals in the workplace. The employee survey is generally non-compulsory and initiated for a number of reasons such as to:

  • ascertain organisation alignment and employee engagement with organisational goals
  • investigate new and departing staff - staff motivations for joining and leaving an organisation
  • gauge employee satisfaction
  • assess employee attitudes, etc.

Learn more about employee surveys

Top


Entry survey
As opposed to an exit survey, an entry survey looks at incoming employees to measure their perception of induction and on-boarding processes and whether the organisation has met their expectations. Entry surveys are usually conducted at the three month mark and can be repeated at six or nine months.

Learn more about entry surveys

Top


Ethics
Standards for professional conduct which include obligations to protect and inform survey respondents of how the research will be used.

Top


Exit interview
An interview which explores employees' motivations for leaving an organisation. Exit interviews benefit organisations by:

  • identifying issues causing costly staff turnover and the loss of good talent
  • supporting managers
  • identifying other areas of concern the current employees are hesitant to voice

Learn more about exit interviews

Top


Factors
The underlying themes or areas which collectively indicate alignment with organisational goals. They may include senior leadership, long term direction, investment in systems, investment in people, etc.

Top


Facilitator
A trained researcher who will run your workshop, action planning, focus group or depth interview.

Top


Focus group
A structured discussion amongst a group of individuals which is facilitated by a trained researcher (the "facilitator") to inform specific research objectives.

Learn more about focus groups

Top


Go-live
The day that a survey is launched and sent to potential respondents. Also see "Launch date".

Top


Hidden demographics
If survey respondents have already been assigned to particular demographics and related sub-classes the demographics are hidden. They will not have to select a demographic on the survey.

Top


Hostile respondent
An individual who answers the survey in an aggressive, rude or inappropriate manner.

Top


Incentive
Something that is offered in return for participation in a survey; examples may be financial, a charity donation or entry to a prize draw.

Top


In field
The time after which the survey has been sent to potential respondents. There is a limited time (i.e. 2-3 weeks) for individuals to respond to a survey. After that time the survey is closed and responses are no longer accepted.

Top


KPI (Key Performance Indicators)
KPIs are sometimes linked to survey results as a measure of performance for managers. *This should be done with caution as there are instances where survey findings are seemingly skewed amongst certain cohorts representing a social desirability bias.

Top


Launch date
Another way of expressing the date that a survey is sent to potential respondents. Also see "Go-live".

Top


Likert scale
A psychometric scaling method, measuring positive or negative responses to a survey. A Likert scale may contain options where the respondent selects their level of agreement or disagreement.

Top


Mean
The term used to describe the average. The mean is defined as the total of the scores divided by the number of scores.

Top


Methodology
The defined process that the research follows which may determine things such as demographic selection, sample size, data collection.

Top


"The Method"
Insync Surveys' project management methodology based on four key principles that guide decision making and conflict resolution processes to ensure projects meet the required deadlines, scope and budget.

Top


Multiple choice question
A question that has multiple responses available. Respondents can often select all that apply rather than just one answer.

Top


Open-ended question
A question that invites individuals to write their own responses rather than indicating level of agreement on a numeric scale.

Top


Percentage favourable
The proportion of respondents who indicate positive agreement e.g. by responding with a 6 or 7 on a 1-7 point scale.

Top


Pilot survey
When a survey is conducted on a small scale, generally with the intention to test reactions or gather feedback, enabling the researchers to revise their strategy prior to wide-scale roll-out.

Top


Portal
An electronic access point which enables permitted individuals to view, download and distribute research findings. This may incorporate an action planning portal.

Top


Pre-survey communications
Communication to potential survey participants to prepare them for the upcoming survey. These may include posters, bulletins, manager briefings, survey invitations, survey introduction letters, email sign-offs, collateral etc.

Top


Project plan
Provides all survey stakeholders with a visual representation of the tasks, responsibilities and timeframe of the entire project.

Top


Qualitative research
Open-ended questions are asked which aims to understand human behaviour and the reasons for decision making. It generally focuses on fewer people than quantitative research, but provides deeper understanding via depth interviews, focus groups or written feedback.

Top


Quality assurance
A systematic process applied to all projects which involves thorough review of analysis to prevent errors.

Top


Quantitative research
Structured questions are asked and responses are limited to numerical/scaled responses. It is administered to a large number of respondents to gather trends for statistical, mathematical or computational methods of analysis.

Top


Quartiles
The points in the data that divide it into quarters. These points also cut off the lowest and highest 25% of the distribution. Any result above the 1st quartile point is in the top 25% of results.  Anything below the 3rd quartile point is in the bottom 25% of results.

Top


Ranking
Where an organisation's results fall relative to the benchmark database if the data was plotted on a standard distribution curve and divided into ordered quartiles.

Top


Raw data
The statistical results from the survey untouched in their purest form. Raw data from qualitative research may constitute tape recordings of conversations or unedited written/typed responses to questions.

Top


Regression analysis
A technique for modeling and analysing several variables simultaneously, whereby the focus is to determine the relationship between a dependent variable and one or more independent variables.

Top


Representative sample
Responses from a statistically representative population from of all areas of an organisation.

Top


Respondent (participant)
An individual who has been invited to and participates in a survey.

Top


Retention
An organisation's ability to retain employees to maintain capability and productivity levels for optimum performance. Understanding why employees leave an organisation by conducting exit interviews is an effective way to manage retention levels.

Top


Sample
The group of respondents who participated in a survey.

Top


Self-selection survey
A survey in which respondents participate of their own free will.

Top


Significance
In a bi-variate survey with a rating scale of 1-7, it refers to a gap score of 2.00 and above. See "bi-variate scale".

Top


Staff satisfaction survey
Measures staff satisfaction to find out what can be done to improve organisational performance. Research shows high levels of staff satisfaction or employee engagement can lead to better customer experiences and improved productivity.

Learn more about staff surveys

Top


Staff turnover - see "Attrition".

Top


Survey item
This is a statement/question on a survey where respondents are typically asked to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement on a rating scale.

Top


Survey fatigue
When a group of respondents have been surveyed too many times within a relatively short timeframe, resulting in a decreased response rate which affects robustness of survey data.

Top


Target population
The individuals who you are aiming to survey.

Top


Thematic analysis
The process of grouping open-ended feedback/qualitative responses together into common themes.

Top


Transcript
A typed copy of the response of a research participant, either edited (in which case it will be marked as an edited version) or unedited.

Top


Uni-variate scale
A survey item that employs scoring on only one scale such as level of agreement, as opposed to a bi-variate scale which may ask for a response by two scales such as "importance" and "performance".

Top


Verbatim comment
Comment/feedback that is relayed exactly as it was provided by the survey respondent.

Top


Voluntary participation
Respondents have undertaken the survey of their own free will rather than it being mandatory.

Top


Welcome page
The first paragraph within a survey that invites the participant to complete the survey, explains its purpose and outlines confidentiality .

Top