Needing to take a poll, do a study, or conduct research- but have $0.00 as your budget – Let me recomend . . .

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I want to conduct a modest study and do so using digital tech methods that cut down on time and the chance of error.  So I was investigating to see what options there where that would offer the most without running too far over budget which is currently a whopping $0.000.

Props should go to Poll Daddy.  Poll Daddy and WordPress have a relationship that works out great for word press users so even those using free WP hosting (as this blog does) you can create and post a simple poll that will appear on your web page or blog.  You can set it up so that it keeps track of those who have already answered before and also to give the results to people as soon as they submit their response.  I know in online courses this sort of poll that gives instant results when the students answer the question is frequently used not just for the information gathered through the poll but also and more so because it is a great and simple way to add an interactive feature to the course that functions in a way that results in helping to diminish the feeling of isolation which is frequently experienced by those taking online courses especially asynchronously (everyone does the work according to their own schedule some time over the next few days like University of Phoenix and most online degree programs offered through the for profit institutions).

I want something a bit more involved or to use the buz word so popular in IT these days I need a more robust tool.  Poll Daddy has the ability to do much more than a basic 1 question survey or poll but you would need to have a pro or business WordPress account or pay some fee and as stated the current outside numbers I am working with to pay for my study are $0.00.  So I had to look beyond Poll Daddy.

The company that got the winning grade in my book was Qualtrics Qualtrics offers an enormous range of features that enable you to develop just about any survey you could imagine complete with real-time customizations that tailor each survey to the person who is currently completing it based on information you have about them already or are learning as they fill it out and actions that are triggered depending on what responses someone enters.  So you could set up a survey that asks a set of extra questions only to people who entered a certain combination of answers on the standard survey and then set it up so if on those special extra questions someone answers yes to one item they are sent a particular e-mail or if they answer no to the question they get a different e-mail sent to them. 

Of course the more you can customize what you are making using some software package the more difficult it is to work with.  That at least seems to be true.  Go too far in what you want the freedom to do and you get all the way down to binary coding.  Yet I found the interface for creating a survey using Qualtrics to be very comprehensible even for someone with minimal computing or statistical research training and experience.  Furthermore if you are stumped or need help knowing how to have it make the sort of instrument based on your vision there are lots of ways to access additional help and information.  You have access to a complete manual for using the software that you can access as you go based on need or download and read in any order you like.  Another helpful resource is Qualtrics University which is the name they give to their library of online video tutorials the basic ones being free to anyone who wants to watch it and some that require you to have a commercial account with Qualtrics.  But what if you are needing to know something that only a person will be able to answer?  Or what if you can’t follow what the manual and tutorial are explaining?  No worries even as a FREE – NO CHARGE – account holder paying them – ZIP – ZERO – ZILCH, they had personal who were more than willing to set up a time to walk me through what I needed help figuring out, they where also accommodating when I had to reschedule, and they where even helpful in assessing what would be the best approach based on my laymen’s explanation of what I was wanting to do and figure out from my study.

Now to have access to every single tutorial, reporting feature, and access to every sort of personalized staff support they offer you will need to pay for a commercial licence which is going to be something in the $5,000.00 range from what I understand.  But even with a free account you can build as many surveys as you want and even send and collect info from up to 250 respondents and generate reports using just about all of the filtering and analytic features they offer without being charged a thing and whether you have a professional licence or work using the free account licence you own and will be able to download all the actual information that you create and generate and use it as you choose if you need to do that. 

 Also if you need to do more than a 250 panel survey but are still not working with anything that you can pay thousands to do contact one of the sales people with Qualtrics.  They made no promises of course but encouraged me saying that it was always possible to explain your needs and offer a price since the company will at times work to accommodate those who are dealing with more modest budgets and with projects the scope of which is humble compared to their more ginormous corporate clients.  Obviously they offer this level of access and support so that some of those free account users who have connections to the big business clients that Qualtrics often deals with you will put in a good word for them and who can fault or begrudge them hoping you will do that in exchange and appreciation for the sort of access, functionality, and support I have described?  Exactly!

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