Reporting Values: Planning Survey Data Before Asking a Question

Welcome to the second installment of our Features Explorers series, where we’ll review how customizing the reporting values within your survey can get you more flexible data.

It’s common for survey makers to focus on their questions without considering the data those questions are going to produce.

By carefully honing your reporting values, a.k.a. the way that your data will be handled and displayed in your reports, you can make sure you’re collecting truly actionable feedback with your surveys.

Survey Data Example: Likert Scale

A great example of considering data before your survey goes out is the common Likert Scale question. These questions offer a range of options that go from very positive to very negative, with a neutral choice at the center.

Reporting values for this kind of question default to showing simply the answer options that respondents select, such as “Strongly agree” or “Very dissatisfied.” But by changing these default text reporting values into numerical values we can manipulate the data in lots of exciting ways.

Take a look at this Likert Scale question shown below in our application:

advanced survey reporting options

The answer options range from “Very Dissatisfied” to “Very Satisfied.”

To adjust how these various answers are reported I’m going to click on Advanced Options gear icon slightly above and to the right of the answer options.

survey reporting grid

I’m going to change the reporting values for this question to “Custom,” meaning I will have total control over how they’re reported.

Here is the updated view. In this screenshot I am midway from changing the reporting values from their defaults to being numeric.

changing survey reporting values

Once they are changed to numeric, you can then generate statistics in the summary reports based on how your respondents answer the question. In the example above, I would personally not place a numeric value to the “Not Applicable” option, as I would want to exclude those who choose that from my reporting.

Now your summary report for this question can provide a much more robust statistical analysis.

In the example below, I showed the average and the standard deviation of the responses.

survey reporting stats

These kinds of data wouldn’t be possible if I had left the reporting values as their default text versions.

External Data Analysis and Reporting Values

There are some other cases when it’s more beneficial to use numeric reporting values.

For instances SPSS, a statistical modeling software,requires reporting values to be numeric in order to function properly.

Within SurveyGizmo, our CSV exports will show the reporting values so that you can perform calculations in software packages outside of our application if required.

Consolidating Responses with Reporting Values

One final way you can customize your survey’s reporting data is by adjusting the reporting values for two or more answers to be identical.

This can be a very handy way to consolidate several answers into a single segment of data in cases where you want to offer different responses but when those responses have the same value to you for data analysis purposes.

For example, let’s say I’m running a survey for bicycle mechanics. I’ve asked people how they would describe themselves as a bike mechanic and offered three different options:

mechanic survey reporting values

Although an enthusiast and a hobbyist might be slightly different, when reporting my results I want to treat both these responses as equivalent.

Do do this I used the same reporting value, Enthusiast, for the first and second answer options. Respondents will see the three answer options, but since two answer options have the same reporting value, I will see both options grouped together in reporting.

Make sure you read our help document about reporting values if you decide to do this. While a powerful way to customize your reports, it’s not compatible with certain features such as logic.

Also, be aware that if you change your mind after you gather live responses, reverting to individual reporting values would be challenging and could compromise your data integrity.

Consistent Custom Reporting Values

If you use custom reporting often and want to see the reporting value section on every question without clicking on advanced features every time, you simply need to adjust your setting.

Move over to the Advanced tab, and scroll the the bottom. You’ll find this:

permanent reporting values change

Beside reporting values simply select customize reporting values and save your settings.

Now you will see the reporting values by default in your survey.

The Value of Starting With Reporting

As you can see from these examples, beginning your survey project with a good idea of what kind of data you want to collect can give you a better chance at survey success.

By customizing the way that your answers are reported, you can get data that provides a full picture of your responses.

This data is also more likely to be compatible with reporting tools outside of SurveyGizmo, so custom reporting values are vital for those using third party analysis.

For a complete walkthrough of reporting values in SurveyGizmo, check out our documentation.