What are cross-tabulations?
Cross-tabulations, or cross-tabs, are data tables that show not only the results for all respondents, but also for selected segments of the population. Typically cross-tabulated data looks like the image below:
Non-researchers may be overwhelmed at the sight of all those numbers at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not that tough. They’re just tables, and are read just like any other table. At a glance we can see that readership of 4 of 4 issues is higher amongst those in private solo practice. And that 4 of 4 readership is higher for those 55+.
One of the easiest ways to describe how cross-tabulated data is used has to do with political polls. This research tool is what enables pollsters to determine the differences in an elected official’s approval rating by gender, age, or education level.
In addition to political applications, cross-tabs allow Readex to highlight, for example, the differences in results by level of experience, company size, decision making authority, etc.
When tables simply report all responses in aggregate (in other words, data that is not cross-tabulated), the tables look something like this:
Someone analyzing this data may reason that the technical coverage of XYZ publication is balanced just right. When the data is cross-tabulated, though, a more revealing story unfolds.
Sure, on average people answered “just right” but less experienced respondents rated the coverage as “too technical”. This simple example shows how cross-tabs can be used to determine how one decision may affect different groups of people. For surveys that have the goal of describing an audience to advertisers, cross-tabulations provide the details to prepare a rich and attractive description of the market exposure provided.
Don’t Let the Clutter Crush Your Spirit.
To offer more value in the cross-tabulated results, Readex includes up to 14 columns of data across the top of the page. This table header is called a banner. The example above includes 3 columns, or banner points: the aggregate, 2+ years experience, and less than 2 years experience.
As more banner points (columns) are added, the page begins to feature a great deal of numbers. While overwhelming at a glance, cross-tabulated tables give you the chance to find out how responses differed based on different segments of people. Plus, the value stretches beyond the first table. All the tables feature the same banner, so for each question, 14 columns of data are reported.
For a minimal investment, cross-tabulated data is an effective way to maximize a survey’s results.