Survey Research Unit (SRU) - How to choose the optimal data collection mode for your project

Centre for Research on Inner City Health - Keenan Research Centre

We can help you weigh your options, understand the implications, and choose the mode – or combination of modes – that’s best for your project. Factors to consider include:

Population Characteristics

Literacy, computer skills, availability, willingness to participate, disability and accessibility, cultural and religious background, population variability.


Open-ended questions, closed-ended questions, sensitive questions, complex questions, complex skip patterns, questions that would benefit from visual aids, necessity to check information, questionnaire length, more than one questionnaire type.

Resources Available

Funds, trained interviewers, CAPI programmers, secure CAWI solutions, computers, CATI stations, private and accessible interviewing space, translation and interpretation services.

Sampling and Recruitment Strategy

Availability of information (names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses), sampling frame and coverage, sample size, recruitment process (random, convenience, snowball, institutional-based, etc).


Aggressive study timeline, short follow-up loops, real time analysis feedback, long data collection timeframe.