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Statistics simplified

How to write a research questionnaire?

The main purpose of any research questionnaire should be to help the researcher in extracting maximum data with the help of minimum questions from the respondents. The questionnaire thus acts as a standard guide for the interviewers who need to ask the questions in same way, as without this standardization the process can get haphazard. Questionnaires are a very important part of data collection methodology which ultimately facilitate the analysis.1

According to many scholars, there are five people who should be considered i.e. Client, Researcher. Interviewer, Respondent and the data processor while designing a questionnaire. A questionnaire only fails when it is designed with insufficient thought. Common problems that are observed in a failed survey include; missed out questions, badly constructed questionnaire, or too long or too complicated questions. 1,2

Steps which are involved in designing a questionnaire include:3

  1. Chalk out the requirements of the study
  2. Define target respondents
  3. Select a method(s) for reaching to target respondents (Emails, online surveys, personal interviews, etc.)
  4. Formulate the content of the questionnaire with proper wording
  5. Arrange questions in meaningful order and format
  6. Finally, check the validity and reliability of the questionnaire and pre-test the questionnaire on a small fraction of population.

The survey plan for any research study will have a range of objectives and thus can require qualitative or quantitative methods or both. The questionnaire can thus be divided into three types as per the requirements of the research study:4

  1. Structured Questionnaires: Closed-ended questions with predefined answers, used in large interview programs for anything over 30 to more than 200 interviews. It can be carried out through mails, telephonic interviews, online surveys.
  2. Semi-Structured Questionnaires: Mixture of close and open-ended questions, used mainly in business related market research wherein large range of responses is obtained. It can be carried out either on telephone or through face-to-face interviews.
  3. Unstructured Questionnaires: Designed to obtain elicit free responses and mainly comprises of qualitative questions. The questionnaire guide has a list of questions with apparent order but it is not as rigid the other two questionnaires.

Questions are designed basically to collect three different types of information from target population these include behavioral information, attitudinal information and classification information. Each of these information types have been defined below:5,6

  1. Behavioral Information: Factual information about what respondents does and also defines the frequency with which certain actions are carried out. These questions are used in surveys to find out market size, awareness, usage etc.
  2. Attitudinal Information: Information about what people think about a particular product, service or brand can be extracted with the help of ratings. These questions are used in brand mapping surveys, and customer and employee satisfaction surveys.
  3. Classification Information: The information which is used to group the respondents to differentiate within the group, for example the socio-demographic information like, age, gender, marital status, socio-economic background, educational qualification etc. This kind of information is obtained in every survey.

References

  • Paul Hague (March, 2006); “A practical Guide to market Research”, Stockport, UK; Chap 8 An Introduction to Questionnaire Design, Pg 129-149
  • Fink, A. (2003) How to ask survey questions, 2nd edition, Sage, London (Thousand Oaks).
  • I.M. Crawford (1997); “Marketing Research and Information systems” Rome; Chap 4 Questionnaire Design
  • Proctor, T. (2003) Essentials of marketing research, 3rd edition, Financial Times Prentice Hall, Harlow. Chapter 7, pp. 176-205.
  • Czaja, R. and Blair, J. (1996) Designing surveys: a guide to decisions and procedures, Thousand Oaks, London. Chapters 4-6, pp. 51-106.
  • De Vaus, D. A. (1996) Surveys in social research, UCL Press, London. Chapter 6, pp. 80-106.

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