Prior to this experience I did not understand how much work goes into writing and distributing a survey. We have had the opportunity to sit in on several meetings where the content and format of a survey (not the ones we are doing) is being ironed out and it has been eye-opening. So much thought goes into how each question is worded, what order they are presented in, if there is too much jargon or is it too dumbed down.
While the questions and wording are getting dialed in, a whole other conversation is being had. Who gets the surveys? How many need to be sent out? How many need to come back? How much does all this cost? It takes months to get all these ducks in a row before the final product reaches a person and even then, there can still be major issues.
Because so much goes into planning a survey-based study it can make it difficult to get needed information quickly. The survey we are giving out to visitors this Summer is gathering data for a report due next year. After we get everything put in the database, the statistical analyses will begin. I can only imagine the work that goes into deciding what types of statistical operations that will be carried out.
I think this internship has opened my eyes to what actually happens at the agency level of research. While I don’t think I hear social science research calling my name, I definitely want to learn more about the process that takes place on the marine biology side of the operation.