Questionnaire design

The Steps in a Survey Project

  • Establish the goals of the project
  • Determine your sample
  • Choose an interviewing methodology
  • Create your questionnaire
  • Pre-test the questionnaire, if practical – Test the questions.
  • Conduct interviews and enter data
  • Analyze the data

2 main components:

  • Format user friendly
  • Content to meet research objectives

The format in VINAMR way:

  • A4
  • Margin
  • Top 0.5
  • Bottom 0.5
  • Left 0.5
  • Right 0.5
  • Build a table with 13 column
  • Question No. 1
  • Question 4
  • Answer 4
  • Code 2
  • Route 2
  • Paragraph
  • Row before 2pt & after 2 pt
  • Font
  • Type Arial
  • Size 10


  • Introduction
  • Screening
  • Main questionnaire
    Section 1: Name of the section
    Section 2: Name of the section

    Section n: name of the section
  • Demographic

Start with an introduction or welcome message.
In the case of mail questionnaires, this message can be in a cover letter or on the questionnaire form itself.
If you are sending e-mails that ask people to take a Web page survey, put your main introduction or welcome message in the e-mail. When practical, state who you are and why you want the information in the survey.
Allow a “Don’t Know” or “Not Applicable” response to all questions, except to those in which you are certain that all respondents will have a clear answer.
In most cases, these are wasted answers as far as the researcher is concerned but are necessary alternatives to avoid frustrated respondents. Sometimes “Don’t Know” or “Not Applicable” will really represent some respondents’ most honest answers to some of your ques¬tions. Respondents who feel they are being coerced into giving an answer they do not want to give often do not complete the questionnaire. For example, many people will abandon a questionnaire that asks them to specify their income, without offering a “decline to state” choice.

For the same reason, include “Other” or “None” whenever either of these is a logically possible answer.
When the answer choices are a list of possible opinions, preferences, or behaviors you should usually allow these answers.

Researchers use three basic types of questions:

  • Multiple choice (SA/MA)
  • Numeric open end
  • Text open-ended
  • Rating scale & Agreement scale (know when to use)
    3 points scale
    5 point scale
    7 point scale
    10 point scale

Other tips:

  • Write a short questionnaire
  • Above all, your questionnaire should be as short as possible. When drafting your questionnaire, make a mental distinction between what is essential to know, what would be useful to know, and what would be unnecessary. Retain the former, keep the user to a minimum, and discard the rest. If the question is not important enough to include in your report, it probably should be eliminated.
  • Use simple words
  • Survey recipients may have a variety of backgrounds so use simple language. For example, “What is the frequency of your automotive travel to your parents’ residents in the last 30 days?” is better understood as, “About how many times in the last 30 days have you driven to your parent’s home?”
  • Relax your grammar
  • Relax your grammatical standards if the questions sound too formal. For example, the word “who” is appropriate in many instances when “whom” is technically correct.
  • Assure a common understanding
  • Write questions that everyone will understand in the same way. Don’t assume that everyone has the same understanding of the facts or a common basis of knowledge. Identify even commonly used abbreviations to be certain that everyone understands.
  • Start with interesting questions
  • Start the survey with questions that are likely to sound interesting and attract the respondents’ attention. Save the questions that might be difficult or threatening for later. Voicing questions in the third person can be less threatening than questions voiced in the second question. For example, ask: “How do your colleagues feel about management?” rather than “How do you feel about management?”
  • Don’t write leading questions
  • Leading questions demand a specific response. For example, the question “Which day of the month is best for the newly established company-wide monthly meeting?” leads respondents to pick a date without first determining if they even want another meeting.
  • Avoid double negatives
  • Respondents can easily be confused deciphering the meaning of a question that uses two negative words.
  • Balance rating scales
  • When the question requires respondents to use a rating scale, mediate the scale so that there is room for both extremes.
  • Don’t make the list of choices too long
  • If the list of answer categories is long and unfamiliar, it is difficult for respondents to evaluate all of them. Keep the list of choices short.
  • Avoid difficult concepts
  • Some questions involve concepts that are difficult for many people to understand
  • Avoid difficult recall questions
  • People’s memories are increasingly unreliable as you ask them to recall events farther and farther back in time. You will get far more accurate information from people if you ask, “About how many times in the last month have you gone out and seen a movie in a movie theater or drive-in?” rather than, “About how many times last year did you go out and see a movie in a movie theater or drive-in?”
  • Use Closed-ended questions rather than Open-ended ones
  • Most questionnaires rely on questions with a fixed number of response categories from which respondents select their answers. These are useful because the respondents know clearly the purpose of the question and are limited to a set of choices where one answer is right for them.
  • An open-ended question is a written response. For example: “If you do not want a company picnic, please explain why”. If there are an excessive number of written response questions, it reduces the quality and attention the respondents give to the answers.
  • Put your questions in a logical order
  • The issues raised in one question can influence how people think about subsequent questions. It is good to ask a general question and then ask more specific questions. For example, you should avoid asking a series of questions about a free banking service and then question about the most important factors in selecting a bank.
  • Pre-test your survey
  • It is better to identify a problem during the pretest than after you have published the survey. Before sending a survey to a target audience, send it out as a test to a small number of people. After they have completed the survey, brainstorm with them to see if they had problems answering any questions. It would help if they explained what the question meant to them and whether it was valid to the questionnaire or not.

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