Some research requires the researcher to ask questions of people. Along with the questionnaire, the researcher should write a cover letter explaining what his research is all about. This is a common courtesy to those who have volunteered to answer questions. Cover letters also give respondents specific instructions on how to answer the questions. Do not give them information on what it is you are actually looking for, since some people might try to alter their answers to fit what you want to do. Remember, spontaneous answers are best for research purposes.
Open up Word or some other computer program in which you can formulate a letter.
Create a header for the cover letter. Include your name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Make it look as professional as you can.
Introduce yourself in the first sentence of the paragraph, even if most of the people already know you.
Explain the project a little bit. Let the respondent know why you are doing this. Do not be afraid to mention your age if you are doing this for a school project.
Give the respondents all the instructions they need to fill out the questionnaire. Tell them to write the first answer that comes into their head for most questions, depending on what the project is and what the questions are.
Add a separate page for all of the respondents' information that you need. Be respectful of their privacy and do not ask for unnecessary information. Keep in mind that most questionnaires for research purposes ask for mainly the age and the gender of the person filling out the questionnaire. Give them specific instructions not to write their name or address on the forms.
Include the questionnaire with the cover letter. Include also a self-addressed, stamped envelope for further privacy of the respondent. Ask them to mail just the questionnaire and any pertinent information to you.
Give respondents a chance to opt out. Make sure you state clearly that they are under no obligation to answer your survey questionnaire, as some questions may be uncomfortable to some people.
Close by thanking the respondents for taking the time to answer the questionnaire for you. Be sure to let them know how much you appreciate their time and effort in completing the survey.
Do not hand-write and photocopy a letter. You want people to take you seriously. A properly typed letter shows that you have put considerable time and effort into creating the questions that will help you fully research your topic.
Tips and warnings
- Do not hand-write and photocopy a letter. You want people to take you seriously. A properly typed letter shows that you have put considerable time and effort into creating the questions that will help you fully research your topic.