Why Academic Questionnaires Must Be Valid and Reliable?

Academic questionnaires are an economical and efficient way of obtaining information from a large group of people. In addition to being less expensive, questionnaire offers the benefit of anonymity to the surveyed person. On the other hand, a poorly-designed questionnaire may face problems of limited application and poor response rate.

A good questionnaire should have the following traits:

  • Clear and easy to follow.
  • Easy to read.
  • Interactive
  • Proper framing of sensitive questions.

Validity

The data collected from an academic questionnaire survey must be valid (or true), meaning the data was collected from the right group of people. Validity of the questionnaire can be answered by asking if the undertaken survey is providing the answers to the research question that it was conducted for. The inclusion of each question in the questionnaire must be justified with respect to the overall objective of the conducted study.

The validity of the questionnaire must fulfil any of the following types:

  • Content: to measure if the content of the questionnaire uses logical reasoning and is easy to apply. The questions must cover all aspects of the problem or issue being researched, while providing adequate representation to each aspect at the same time. Additionally, each question must have a logical link with the objective of the survey.
  • Criterion: to measure if the questionnaire accurately predicts the behaviour in a given area.
  • Construct: to correlate the performance of this questionnaire test with another performance test on which the construct has been validated.

A validated questionnaire can be accurate in measuring its aim, regardless of the identity and response time of the respondents.

Reliability

Reliability refers to the ability of the questionnaire in producing reproducible results. A reliable questionnaire ensures that the same (or similar) answers are repeated.

The reliability of the questionnaire is measured on basis of the following aspects:

  • Stability: to ensure that the same set of results are obtained when the questionnaire is used for at least 2 or more times to the same participant at different time intervals.
  • Consistency: to ensure that all the sub-sections of the questionnaire are used to measure the same characteristic.
  • Equivalent: is used when a single event is measured simultaneously by 2 or more independent observers, and measures if there is agreement among the various observers.

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