Questionnaire Designing: An art

The general perception is that questionnaire designing is an easy task. Well it is just a list of questions, right? The truth however is that not many of us are able to nail it on the first draft itself. Often researchers are found struggling with the wording, sequencing and other important aspects of questionnaire designing. It is integral to have a proper questionnaire design for a successful research project. A well designed questionnaire will not only invoke the interest of the respondents and increase the possibility of them completing the survey but it will also add to the accuracy of the analysis.  There are certain tips that help in creating the most effective data collection tool. These tips could be articulated in such a way:

  1.  The clarity of the questions is very important. It should reflect what you are asking and how you want it answered.  For example, when the income of the respondent is asked, if the questionnaire says, “What is your income?” the respondent would be ambiguous about  whether weekly, monthly or annual income is to be stated.
  2. It should be avoided to use vague and ambiguous words like “often” or” regularly” in research. The questions should be more direct and precise. A question like, “How often do you eat out of home?” should be replaced by a more precise question like, “How many times in a week do you eat out?” It is important to remember that nothing should be left on the interpretation of the respondent.
  3. Do not add too many choices for the respondent to choose from.  The more the choices for the respondent, the harder it is for him to be fair in his responses. It is all the more important to keep this in mind when the respondent has to rank the options in order. If numeric range is to be presented then it has to be clear, non-ambiguous and mutually exclusive.
  4. Another important tip for an effective questionnaire is to avoid usage of emotional language or leasing questions.  They affect the objectivity of the answers and make the responses also more from an emotional perspective rather than a rational one.

Unnecessary use of adjective, adverbs and other decorative words should be avoided. The sentences/questions should be in simple and non-flowery language.

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