The challenges and benefits of analyzing feedback comments in surveys: Lessons from a cross-national online survey of small-scale cannabis growers

Tom Decorte, Aili Malm, Sharon R. Sznitman, Pekka Hakkarainen, Monica J. Barratt, Gary R. Potter, Bernd Werse, Gerrit Kamphausen, Simon Lenton, Vibeke Asmussen Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

It is common practice in survey questionnaires to include a general open and non-directive feedback question at the end, but the analysis of this type of data is rarely discussed in the methodological literature. While these open-ended comments can be useful, most researchers fail to report on this issue. The aim of this article is to illustrate and reflect upon the benefits and challenges of analyzing responses to open-ended feedback questions. The article describes the experiences of coding and analyzing data generated through a feedback question at the end of an international online survey with small-scale cannabis cultivators carried out by the Global Cannabis Cultivation Research Consortium. After describing the design and dataset of the web survey, the analytical approach and coding frame are presented. The analytical strategies chosen in this study illustrate the diversity and complexity of feedback comments which pose methodological challenges to researchers wishing to use them for data analyses. In this article, three types of feedback comments (political/policy comments, general comments of positive and negative appreciation, and methodological comments) are used to illustrate the difficulties and advantages of analyzing this type of data. The advantages of analyzing feedback comments are well known, but they seem to be rarely exploited. General feedback questions at the end of surveys are typically non-directive. If researchers want to use these data for research and analyses, they need a clear strategy. They ought to give enough thought to why they are including this type of question, and develop an analytical strategy at the design stage of the study.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMethodological Innovations
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the thousands of cannabis cultivators who completed our questionnaire. Our research would not be possible without your efforts. Thank you to all the people and groups that supported and promoted our research, including but not limited to: A-clinic Foundation, Bluelight.org, Cannabis Consumer organization ?WeSmoke,? Cannabis Festival 420 Smoke Out, cannabismyter.dk, Chris Bovey, Deutscher Hanfverband, drugsforum.nl, eve-rave.ch, Finnish Cannabis Association, grasscity.com, grower.ch, hampepartiet.dk, Hamppu Forum, hanfburg.de, Hanfjournal, the Israeli Cannabis Magazine (https://www.??????.com/en/), jointjedraaien.nl, land-der-traeume.de, Nimbin Hemp Embassy, NORML-UK, ?sterreichischer Hanfverband, OZStoners.com, partyflock.nl, psychedelia.dk, rollitup.org, Royal Queen Seeds, shaman-australis.com, thctalk.com, Vereniging voor Opheffing Cannabisverbod (VOC), wietforum.nl, wiet-zaden.nl, and all the coffeeshops, growshops and headshops that helped us. The German team would like to thank Anton-Proksch-Insitut, Dr. Alfred Uhl (Vienna, Austria), and infodrog.ch, Marcel Krebs (Bern, Switzerland), who gave consent to address Austrian and Swiss respondents and assisted their team with recruitment of Swiss and Austrians. The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The project meetings of this study are funded by the Nordic Center for Welfare and Social Issues (NVC). S.L. and M.J.B. through their employment at The National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Center at the University of New South Wales are supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Drug and Alcohol Program. M.J.B. is funded through a National Health & Medical Research Council Early Career Researcher Fellowship (APP1070140). The Belgian study was funded through the Belgian Science Policy Office, under the Federal Research Program on Drugs (Grant no. DR/00/063). The US/Canada study received funding from the College of Health and Human Services at California State University, Long Beach. The German study received refunding from a prior project funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Association).

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The project meetings of this study are funded by the Nordic Center for Welfare and Social Issues (NVC). S.L. and M.J.B. through their employment at The National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Center at the University of New South Wales are supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Drug and Alcohol Program. M.J.B. is funded through a National Health & Medical Research Council Early Career Researcher Fellowship (APP1070140). The Belgian study was funded through the Belgian Science Policy Office, under the Federal Research Program on Drugs (Grant no. DR/00/063). The US/Canada study received funding from the College of Health and Human Services at California State University, Long Beach. The German study received refunding from a prior project funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Association).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.

Keywords

  • Survey questionnaires
  • cannabis growers
  • coding frame
  • data analysis
  • feedback comments
  • web survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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