Gathering data using a survey is often perceived by practitioner-researchers as one of the easiest ways to carry out research; however, a well-constructed survey can be difficult to develop. Librarian practitioner-researchers often use surveys as an economical and easy way to capture information from a wide swath of people. Once the information is gathered, however, the application and usability of the data is often limited and can fall short of the standards of scholarship. Librarian practitioner-researchers may also default to a survey when it is not the most effective tool for data gathering. But when surveys are designed well and used appropriately, they can systematize evidence in ways that enable research to be used by others. Our research experience with surveys has highlighted how important it is to consider whether a survey is the most appropriate tool for a research project and to devote time and effort to developing a well-constructed survey instrument. We have also seen how inferential statistical analysis can bring depth and rigor to survey findings. When surveys are designed well and used appropriately, they can systematize evidence in ways that enable research to be used by others. This chapter demonstrates the utility and limitations of surveys using as an example a research project that we conducted from 2013 to 2017 to investigate what factors contribute to academic librarians’ research productivity.
Hoffmann, Kristin and Selinda Berg. 2020. “Survey Research: Useful, Valuable Findings Require Hard Work.” In Becoming a Practitioner-Researcher: A Practical Guide for Information Professionals, edited by Lee Ann Fullington, Brandon West, and Frans Albarillo. Chicago: ACRL Press.