Module 11. Data collection tools, field manual, and database

Developing and testing the main survey questionnaire

Age determination technique and tools

Field manual


Data collection materials include the main survey questionnaire and other forms (or tools), such as the specimen collection control form, cluster control form, and anthropometry data form. These tools can be paper-based or electronic, or some of each. For example, where the main survey questionnaire is in electronic format, some of the control forms may be paper-based. See Module 4: Survey design for a more detailed comparison of the use of electronic- or paper-based data collection for the main survey questionnaire.

The Survey coordinator and the relevant technical subcommittee need to spend considerable time developing the questionnaire and related survey tools to ensure that they function as intended so that all collected data can be correctly processed and linked with parallel information, such as food samples or biological specimens. The data collection tools should be as concise as possible while ensuring that they measure indicators that meet the survey objectives. This may be a challenge in a situation where the Technical committee has representation from a wide range of disciplines.

The survey questionnaire and other data collection forms will be extensively reviewed, and interview techniques will be practiced during training. Pilot testing all aspects of the survey generally takes place at the end of the training. The questionnaire should be tested:

  • in one or more local languages, as appropriate
  • using the same data collection method (paper-based or electronic) that will be used during the survey
  • in conditions similar to the field to simulate the actual data collection
  • in a location that is not going to be visited as part of the survey.

Following the pilot testing, all survey teams should convene and discuss the experience and make any necessary modifications to the questionnaire and other data collection forms. More details can be found in Module 12: Training and pilot testing