A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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An Analysis of the Public Scientific Literacy Study in China   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In March 2006, the State Council of the People's Republic of China issued "The Outline of the Action Plan for Improving Scientific Literacy for All (From 2006--2010 and then 2010--2020)" (the "Scientific Literacy Outline"), in which the official notion of scientific literacy named "Public Scientific Literacy in China" was put forward for the first time in the history of China. Subsequently, the program of "Study on Measurement Indicators of Scientific Literacy of Chinese Citizens and its Demonstration" was funded by the China Association for Science and Technology the following September. However, the notion as well as its measurement indicators still need more clarification. After reviewing some relevant literature and introducing the historical background to the concept of "Public Scientific Literacy in China" along with a detailed interpretation of its connotation, the authors do a closer examination of the measurement indicators established by the Research and Development Center for Science Communication at the University of Science and Technology of China, based on a systematical analysis of the sample surveys.

Chen, Fajun, Yumin Shi and Fei Xu. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Surveys>China


Asking Your Users, Part 2

To get the most out of a user survey, make sure your users can give you answers which are measurable and actionable. This is, in my experience, the key to a good user survey.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Surveys


Attitudes to Web Accessibility

During the summer of 2003, we ran an online questionnaire, conducted interviews and carried out a literature review on Web accessibility. One hundred and seventeen respondents participated and they included designers, information officers and accessibility advocates. This initial set of results are intended to encourage debate on the subject.

Knight, John. Usability News (2003). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Surveys


A Bright Idea: Web-Based Surveys

If you’re looking for a quick, simple, and cost-efficient way to survey your members, you may want to try a Web-based survey service such as Zoomerang. Zoomerang offers users the ability to create and design their own surveys, send the surveys to targeted groups, and download the results, which Zoomerang tabulates.

McEwen, Kathryn. Tieline (2003). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods>Surveys


Building Effective Customer Surveys

Well-designed customer surveys can yield valuable information for your business. Unfortunately, though, a poorly worded survey can set you marching off in exactly the wrong direction. Below are some tips on designing surveys to get reliable, useful data.

Bennaco (2005). Articles>Usability>Methods>Surveys


Changing the Way the Profession Communicates: A Workshop for Prospective Journal Peer Reviewers   (PDF)

More than 90% of Technical Communication readers are informed practitioners--writers, editors, illustrators, designers, trainers, and project managers. About 10% are teachers and students. They come from diverse backgrounds as well as from technical communication programs.

Hayhoe, George F. STC Orange County (1998). Articles>Rhetoric>Audience Analysis>Surveys


Collecting and Incorporating Feedback from Customers: Making Telephone Surveys Work (for You and for Them)   (PDF)

There is no question that feedback from customers is a vital input to any information-development process. To try to develop good and useful information without knowing how customers use (or intend to use) it is to work in a vacuum. To produce and deliver information and to ignore the follow-up activity of checking customers use of and satisfaction with the information is nothing less than gross negligence.

Grice, Roger A. and Lenore S. Ridgway. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>User Centered Design>Assessment>Surveys


Communication, Culture and Surveys   (PDF)

Interest in corporate culture has been on the increase ever since studies over a decade ago found a link between certain cultural aspects and successful business outcomes. Buthow can you measure the bottom-link impacts of culture in your own organization?

Sinickas, Angela D. Sinickas Communications (2000). Articles>Business Communication>Cultural Theory>Surveys


A Comparison of Questionnaires for Assessing Website Usability   (PDF)

Five questionnaires for assessing the usability of a website were compared in a study with 123 participants. The questionnaires studied were SUS, QUIS, CSUQ, a variant of Microsoft’s Product Reaction Cards, and one that we have used in our Usability Lab for several years. Each participant performed two tasks on each of two websites: finance.yahoo.com and kiplinger.com. All five questionnaires revealed that one site was significantly preferred over the other. The data were analyzed to determine what the results would have been at different sample sizes from 6 to 14. At a sample size of 6, only 30-40% of the samples would have identified that one of the sites was significantly preferred. Most of the data reach an apparent asymptote at a sample size of 12, where two of the questionnaires (SUS and CSUQ) yielded the same conclusion as the full dataset at least 90% of the time.

Tullis, Thomas S. and Jacqueline N. Stetson. Usability Professionals Association (2004). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Surveys


Conducting Mail, Telephone, and Online Surveys: 1998   (PDF)

While surveys appear surprisingly easy to plan and conduct, they are fraught with pitfalls for the unwary. That said, technical communicators can use surveys as a tool to enhance their understanding of audiences, assess the effectiveness of their communication products, and determine the value of technical communications to their company--if they follow wellestablished social science and communication science methodologies. This workshop will provide you with the foundations you need for developing, conducting, and managing surveys; analyzing the data, interpreting surveys and reporting your results.

Zimmerman, Donald E. STC Proceedings (1998). Articles>Usability>Methods>Surveys


Conducting Mail, Telephone, and Online Surveys: 1999   (PDF)

While surveys appear surprisingly easy to plan and conduct, they are fraught with pitfalls for the unwary. That said, technical communicators can use surveys as a tool to enhance their understanding of audiences, assess the effectiveness of their communication products, and determine the value of technical communication to their company--if they follow well-established social science and communication science methodologies. This workshop will provide you with the foundations you need for developing, conducting, and managing surveys; analyzing the data, interpreting surveys and reporting your results.

Zimmerman, Donald E. STC Proceedings (1999). Articles>Usability>Methods>Surveys


Decision Models for Comparative Usability Evaluation of Mobile Phones Using the Mobile Phone Usability Questionnaire (MPUQ)   (peer-reviewed)

A comparative usability evaluation was performed using various subjective evaluation methods, including Mobile Phone Usability Questionnaire (MPUQ). Further, decision-making models using Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) and multiple linear regression were developed and applied. Although the mean rankings of the four phones were not significantly different across the evaluation methods, there were variations across the methods in terms of the number of rank orderings, preference proportions, and methods to select their initial preference. Thus, this study provided a useful insight into how users make different decisions through different evaluation methods. Also, the result showed that answering a usability questionnaire affected a user's decision-making process for comparative evaluation.

Ryu, Young Sam, Kari Babski-Reeves, Tonya L. Smith-Jackson and Maury A. Nussbaum. Journal of Usability Studies (2007). Articles>Usability>Assessment>Surveys


DETC Member Survey on Online Learning   (PDF)

Survey respondents reveal the focus on change and growth. Almost every responding institution disclosed plans for improvement – new course designs, additional online options, or experimentation with various Learning Management Software. DETC schools are prepared to embrace the changes in technology and increased online delivery while continuing to provide superior education to the distance learning student. The results also demonstrate reluctance to abandon a synchronous, print-based method of learning.

Distance Education and Training Council (2004). Articles>Education>Online>Surveys


Developing and Implementing Effective Web-Based Surveys   (PDF)

In this paper we will report on the development and implementation of the first part of a two-part web-based survey distributed to a university population of over 20,000 faculty, staff and students. This large-scale project presented multiple operational, technical and design challenges. User-centered design was crucial to the successful development and deployment of the survey. This survey tool was used to explore the richness and potential value of web surveys motivated by a combination of a desire to improve both the survey-taking process and results-computing process. The objective of this research is to design and implement an effective Web survey tool, record user participation, determine the value of implementing a two-part survey over time (longitudinal), and to identify improvements for future web-based surveys. The benefit to the organization will be the identification of service areas in need of improvements and the ability to match satisfaction level with actual product/service costs.

Andrews, Susan and Susan Feinberg. STC Proceedings (1999). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods>Surveys


Documentation Research, Anyone? Your Opinion, Please

I’m curious about the value of adding all the font changes in user instructions: Is is valuable, or is it a distraction to users? What do you think? Access the poll and provide your answers. I promise to post the results.

Technical Communication Topics (2008). Articles>Documentation>Typography>Surveys


Evaluating and Managing Surveys

While surveys aren't the only research tool available to HR managers, they are the most useful one when 'hard' numbers are needed on how many people see things a certain way and when it's important to track differences among subgroups or improvement over time.

Sinickas, Angela D. Sinickas Communications (2004). Careers>Management>Assessment>Surveys


Evaluation of Digital Libraries Using Snowball Sampling   (peer-reviewed)

This article describes how snowball sampling was applied in two different cases to evaluate digital collections. The first digital library was evaluated by conducting in–person interviews with survey participants. For the second digital library, an e–mail survey was mailed to site users. The results are compared and a cost–benefit analysis is provided. The author concludes that the convenience of an e–mail survey is not necessarily the most effective way to survey users.

Peterson, Elaine. First Monday (2005). Articles>Web Design>Assessment>Surveys


Examining the Scope of Channel Expansion: A Test of Channel Expansion Theory With New and Traditional Communication Media   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article draws on channel expansion theory to explore the selection and use of communication media by organizational members. Channel expansion theory scholars posit that media richness perceptions are dependent on experiences with communication partners, the message topic, and the communication media utilized. This study tests channel expansion theory in the context of new and traditional communication media. Respondents (N = 269) completed questionnaires regarding their use and perceptions of face-to-face, telephone, e-mail, or instant-messaging interactions. Results indicate that experience with channel, topic, partner, and social influence are all significant predictors of richness perceptions, when controlling for age and media characteristics. Findings also suggest that the richness of a medium is not fixed and may be shaped by interpersonal factors, including one's relevant experiences.

D'Urso, Scott C. and Stephen A. Rains. Management Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Communication>Theory>Surveys


Finding a Cure for Survey Fatigue   (PDF)

A downward trend in survey response rates is often blamed on the fact that people simply become tired of taking surveys. Butthere are ways to avoid the malaise setting in, says Angela Sinickas, a key one being making sure thatpeople feel their opinions are actually being listened to. Here she shares three common causes of survey fatigue and how to deal with them.

Sinickas, Angela D. Sinickas Communications (2007). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods>Surveys


Focus Groups or Survey?

This month's column is a quiz. I'll set up some scenarios, you choose which research approach you think is best. At the end, I'll defend why I think my own answers are right!

Sinickas, Angela D. Sinickas Communications (2000). Articles>Research>Methods>Surveys


The Gentle Art of Questionnaire Design   (PDF)

It is important for us to gain knowledge about our audiences before we start developing our information packages. It is equally important for us to get feedback after we have produced our information so that we know how well it was received by our audiences.

Ridgway, Lenore S. and Roger A. Grice. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Research>Methods>Surveys


Get The Credit You Deserve From Surveys

The wonders of technology have opened up easy-to-use on-line survey creation and analysis. Yet if you take the numbers the surveys provide at face value, you may be under-representing your audience's true responses. The following examples demonstrate how to phrase questions for more accurate results.

Sinickas, Angela D. Sinickas Communications (2002). Articles>Research>Methods>Surveys


Getting the Most Use out of Research Results

All too often companies conduct a survey and do nothing with the results. This problem can be minimized through developing a highly actionable survey in the first place (the topic of this month's column) and making sure that management is committed to acting on the findings (to be covered next month). Here are some suggestions for developing a survey that leads to highly actionable results.

Sinickas, Angela D. Sinickas Communications (1999). Articles>Research>Methods>Surveys


How Companies Are Using Online Surveys to Measure Employee Satisfaction

With technology improving rapidly and costs continuing to drop, businesses are conducting more sophisticated online surveys. No longer confined to traditional paper-based surveys, companies are reaching out more than ever for employee feedback. These surveys include employee satisfaction, upward or "360" evaluations and the performance review process. Online surveys now contain open-ended questions, multiple formats and complex branching tools, giving businesses the potential to gather more insight about employees, corporate culture and business processes than ever before.

Frayne, Dennis. Communication World Bulletin (2005). Articles>Management>Online>Surveys


How Regular Polling can Support Communication of Change

You can't wait for the employee survey each year to see if you're making improvements in your change communication - you need to measure now. Polls are the pulse takers that give snapshots of perceptions. They describe how people are coping with change, what they are thinking, how they are feeling and the extent to which they are supportive of organizational goals. Tudor Williams, ABC, outlines the critical factors in ensuring your polls are accurate, usable and result in valid sets of data.

Williams, Tudor and Ryan Williams. Communication World Bulletin (2003). Articles>Business Communication>Methods>Surveys



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