Survey results REVISED!

Posted: January 6, 2012 in Technical Writing

The main criticism I’ve received of my technical writer survey, and my paper “What non-writing skills are technical communicators using?” is that the sample size is too small. By the time I had to write the paper, I only had nineteen responses. While the thoughtful advice given in the comments sections was very helpful, the statistics themselves were considered untrustworthy by my colleagues and instructor.

Fortunately for us, I never got around to “closing” my online survey, and people continued to take it long after the paper was turned in. As a result, I have thirty-eight responses. Still not definitive, but a doubling of the original sample can’t be scoffed at.

For our collective education, I’ve compiled the results into revised graphs. This not only gives us a larger sample size from which to learn, but allows us to compare with the original graphs to see if the two sample sizes produced much different results.

The first graph was “Tools and techniques used by technical communicators.” Behold the revised edition!

And now let’s see that original graph, with the nineteen responses:

Tools and techniques used by Technical Communicators graph

Aside from the original graph being smaller for some reason, not a bad comparison, huh? The numbers are fortuitously easy to crunch, since the sample size was exactly doubled. With a couple minor exceptions, the results of the revised graph are pretty close to double the results of the original.

Now let’s examine the revised results of the second graph, “Methods of learning.”

And the original?

It’s not an exact doubling, but the pattern is clear.

So was the original sample size large enough after all? Or did we just get lucky? Or are we still too small to have a good idea of what’s going on out there?

And an even more interesting question: Do I close the survey down, or leave it up for further input? I decided to edit it to explain that the paper has already been turned in and graded, but that further responses are welcome for our studies here. Care to add your input?

Looking forward to seeing where this takes us!


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