Questionnaires and Surveys
can be anonymous (avoids embarrassment of recipient)
- can be inexpensive to administer (many multimedia tools)
- easy to compare and analyze
- administer to many people
- can get lots of data quickly
- many sample questionnaires already exist
- can hit wide geographic areas
- no interview bias
- high validity (if well constructed)
- open-ended questions utilizes respondents words
- closed-ended questions provides exact info needed by researcher
- closed-ended questions are easy to analyze
- useful for exploration as well as confirmation
might not get careful feedback
- wording can bias responses
- doesn't’t get full story
- could have design flaws
- often get low response rate
- assumes no literacy issues
- problems with incomplete responses
- respondent has choice of whether to complete or not
- must be kept short
- respondents may lack information or self-awareness to complete
- open-ended questions are time consuming to analyze and may reflect differences in verbal ability
- measures need validation
Things to Consider
Who are you planning on surveying?
How many people are you going to survey?
- Choose a target number
- Too few won’t give enough data to support generalizations or findings
- Too many will overwhelm you with analyzing your data
- How are you going to survey?
- in person
- on paper
- should be based on length and types of questions
- How long is your survey going to be?
- What types of questions are you going to ask?
- open-ended questions allow the participant any type of response (provides richer responses; hard to analyze)
- closed question sets up possible responses (yes/no, likert scales, specific choices) (easier to analyze but do not provide the rich responses)
- What questions are you going to ask?
- carefully consider wording
- consider first sampling a small population to refine question
Theme and cover letter (if mailing)
- Who you are
- Why data is required
- Assurance of confidentiality and anonymity (if necessary)
- Contact number and/or address
- Estimate of completion time
- Instructions for return (return date, address)
- Instructions for completion
- Clear and unambiguous
- General instructions (if some questions require specific instructions, separate these)
- Response method requested (ex: check, circle, cross out)
- Provide examples, if necessary
- Actual Questionnaire/Survey/Checklist
- Neat and professional
- Careful thought to layout will help your analysis
- Simple rules to improve appearance
- liberal space make the reading easier
- consistent positioning of response boxes (speeds up completion and avoids inadvertent omission of responses)
- choose font style to maximize legibility
- differentiate between instructions and questions
- Excessive size can reduce response rates: be concise!
- If long questionnaire is necessary, give more thought to appearance.
- Select opening questions with care to keep participant committed
- Ask biographical details first
- Essential questions early; less important questions towards end
- Provoking questions should be asked at end (in the event the participant will not answer)
- If analysis is carried out statistically or with a spreadsheet, design the questionnaire with coding in mind (ex: Male – 1; Female – 2)
- Keep questions short, simple and avoid all unnecessary words
- Choose words that are familiar to participant
- Only ask questions the participants can answer
- Avoid hypothetical questions
- Avoid calculations and questions that require memory work (ex: How many people stayed in your hotel last year?)
- Avoid loaded or leading questions that imply an answer (ex: Do you agree that Starbucks has the best coffee?)
- Quantitative statements should be used (ex: avoid words such as “generally”, “usually” or “normally” for more precise meanings)
- Questions should only address a single issue (ex: Do you take annual vacations in Ocean City? Should be broken down into two: Do you take an annual vacation? Do you go to Ocean City during that vacation?
- Don’t ask two questions in one by using an “and” (ex: Did you watch television and read a newspaper last night?)
- Avoid double negatives
- State varying degrees (ex: How much did you earn last year? Less than $10,000; More than $10,000 but less than $20,000, etc.)
- Avoid emotional or embarrassing word (usually connected with race, religion, policitics, sex or money)
- Avoid confusing or wordy questions
What do you think about parking? (question isn't’t clear)
- Do you believe that the parking situation on campus is problematic or difficult because of the lack of spaces and the walking distances? (wordy and leading)
- What is your opinion of the parking situation on campus? (better option)
Good Websites to gain more insight:
Video which explains Survey process:
Help in understanding Statistics, Standard Deviation, etc.:
Samples of Qualitative Survey Questions
The open-ended question seeks to explore the qualitative, in-depth aspects of a particular topic or issue. It gives a person the chance to respond in detail. Although open-ended questions are important, they are time-consuming and should not be over-used. An example of an open-ended question might be:
- What is your favorite subject in school?
- What do you like about __________________?
- How could _______ be improved?
If you want to add an "Other" answer to a multiple choice question, you are adding a qualitative component to a quantitative question.
- Samples of Quantitative Survey Questions
- How often do you use this product?
Example of an online survey
LockMedia Survey Builder
Websites to create surveys:
Tutorial on using Survey Monkey
Google Groups (access particular online communities)
Return to Key Elements of the Research Proposal