When most people think about coding, building websites or apps often springs to mind, where the language used to ‘talk’ to computers is mind-boggling to most of us not directly involved in IT. But coding can also be used for processing data, known as survey coding. It doesn’t always have to be highly technical and can be really useful for market researchers. Here’s how:
What is survey coding?
In its simplest form, survey coding is the process of categorising open-end responses to a question into specific groups. Having this information organised enables further analysis similar to that done with quantitative data.
You can complete survey coding manually, although it can be very time-consuming depending on the study’s volume of data. And you can also create a digital code framework that can categorise the responses automatically for you.
What are the benefits of survey coding?
Open-end survey responses are excellent for generating in-depth data, especially when the majority of your questions may be quantitative. The data produced is raw, unguided and unlimited, allowing participants to express their views on a topic that extends beyond your specific closed questions.
This data is hugely valuable to businesses, allowing them to improve their products and services in ways they may not have otherwise considered.
But these open-end responses come with a problem – the potential for a great variety of information.
Survey coding helps to get around that problem and makes analysis easier. Code frames are designed to group similar answers, effectively assigning a tag to each response, allowing for more statistical analysis.
Manual or automated coding: which is best?
Both manual and automated coding have their benefits and drawbacks. Here’s a summary of each:
When using manual coding, analysts can work closely with the data to ensure every detail is captured and the subtleties in the answers are understood.
However, the task can be lengthy and repetitive, especially with large data sets. Furthermore, human coding can result in potential bias, which could skew the data.
Automated coding enables fast and efficient data categorisation, which is particularly helpful in extensive studies. It also avoids human bias and potential error.
However, while reducing human input has its benefits, it can also result in nuances being missed or misinterpreted by the automated solution.
There are pros and cons to both manual and automated coding, so neither is necessarily better than the other. Deciding which to use will depend on the volume of data collected, the available resources and the study’s objectives. Moreover, you don’t have to use them in isolation. For example, you can use automated coding initially and then review the categorisation manually as part of your quality control process.
Foreign language survey coding
Automated coding can be highly valuable when carrying out studies in multiple global markets or different languages. Code frames can be specifically designed to review open-ends in the target language and code them directly into English.
In-language direct-to-English coding is one of the specialist research solutions provided by Mission Translate. To learn more about how it works, please visit our digital services page or get in touch with our team at [email protected].