Students come up with a research question and design a survey to gather data to answer it. They exchange surveys to get some hands-on practice with clean and dirty data and incorporate what they learn to polish their surveys.

It is exciting to collect data to answer the questions we are most curious about! But collecting high quality data is a tricky endeavor; many potential problems lurk beneath the surface. Good Data Scientists know how to minimize those issues. Your team will design a survey that yields "cleaner" data by using advanced survey tools to avoid many of the challenges faced by Data Scientists. Let’s dig in!

1. Brainstorm a Research Question

Complete Survey Brainstorming by choosing a topic and brainstorming:

  • a list of questions that would help you gather data about the project

  • the data types you would expect as responses for each of your questions

  • the displays you would be interested in seeing as part of your analysis

  • grouped samples that you’d want to explore separately (e.g. just 8th graders just the males, etc).

2. Design the Survey

Create a new google form survey which includes:

  • The title of the survey

  • A description of what the survey is for and how responses will be used

  • At least 8 good questions making use of data cleanliness mechanisms:

    • Which questions are required?

    • Do all questions have good descriptions/instructions?

    • Would any of your questions yield cleaner results if you specified the data type of the answer?

    • Would any of your questions yield cleaner results if you used multiple choice options?

    • If you’re using multiple choice, have you included all of the options that people would need to be able to reply to your question?

3. Hack Each Other’s Surveys!

Exchange surveys with another group and test the limits of their survey by trying to enter as much "dirty" data as you can! Turn to Survey Hacking and, for each dirty data example, write down what you submitted and what suggestion you would have to help the other group guard against it. What can you learn that would improve your own survey from seeing the holes in the survey you’ve been trying to hack?

4. Revise Your Survey

Using what you learned from reflecting on the other team’s survey and the written feedback they provided you about your survey, revise your google form so that it’s ready to collect "cleaner" data from the general public!

These materials were developed partly through support of the National Science Foundation, (awards 1042210, 1535276, 1648684, and 1738598). CCbadge Bootstrap by the Bootstrap Community is licensed under a Creative Commons 4.0 Unported License. This license does not grant permission to run training or professional development. Offering training or professional development with materials substantially derived from Bootstrap must be approved in writing by a Bootstrap Director. Permissions beyond the scope of this license, such as to run training, may be available by contacting