- A questionnaire includes questions and other elements to elicit data suitable for the study.
- The questionnaire may be viewed as a paper-based interview.
- The creation of a questionnaire follows a structure similar to that of the interview schedule.
- However, due to the questionnaire’s impersonal nature, its development requires even more attention.
- Due to the absence of an interviewer to reveal topics and check for misunderstandings, the questionnaire’s functioning must be transparent.
- The spectrum of possible replies to each question should be anticipated more extensively than in an interview.
- The Essentials of the Questionnaire Construction
- Designing a questionnaire is a key, and essential aspect of research since an improper questionnaire can mislead researchers, academics, and policymakers.
- Accordingly, a questionnaire should include a succession of appropriate and topical questions sequentially.
- The majority of the questionnaire’s format is decided by the questionnaire type.
Types of Questionnaire
- The two primary types of questionnaires are structured and unstructured. The often employed quasi-structured questionnaire in social science research is a blend of these two.
- Standard characteristics of structured surveys include pre-coded questions having clearly specified skip patterns. In the bulk of quantitative data collection efforts, structured questionnaires are employed. Such structured surveys possess the benefits of fewer discrepancies, ease of administration, uniformity in replies, and simplicity in the data processing.
- Open-ended and unclear opinion-type questions are typical in unstructured surveys. It’s possible that questions don’t always take the form of interrogative phrases. In this scenario, the moderator or enumerator should clarify the purpose of the query. This questionnaire is used during focus group discussions.
- Not every inquiry can be easily pre-programmed with almost guaranteed answers. Some available answer possibilities on regular surveys are marked as “others” (please specify). Most questions are structured, which is a common and valuable practice. However, it is appropriate for specific unstructured queries to include replies that are impossible to list exhaustively. A quasi-structured questionnaire utilizes this type of format.
The Format of the Questionnaire
- It needs to be a smaller size than the timetable.
- The length and breadth should be of a suitable size.
- As for the length, it shouldn’t be more than two or three pages.
- It should be printed on high-quality paper and structured accordingly.
- It should have a visually appealing design.
The queries must be succinct and convey their meaning clearly.
The question has to be ordered based on choice and priority.
The survey’s questions should be able to maintain the respondents’ attention.
- The questionnaire’s questions should have the shortest feasible word count.
- The survey shouldn’t be overly drawn out.
Question Types in a Questionnaire
- Two types of questions may be posed:
- Closed-ended or restricted questions are those that demand a response in the form of a yes-or-no decision, a check next to each item on a list, or a choice from a range of options.
- The tabulation and compilation of restricted questions are simple.
- Unrestricted inquiries are open-ended and allow respondents to express any thoughts and sentiments about the subject that are significant to them.
- Unrestricted questions make it difficult to tabulate and assemble data, but they allow respondents to express their true feelings.
- It is preferable to stick with a few questions that can be measured if the goal is to get data from all responses.
- If you want to study the intensity or range of emotions, you can create a scale to measure such sensations.
Characteristics of Good Questions in a Questionnaire
General rules of question crafting:
- Clear objective
- Simple language
- Clear concepts
- Without bias
- Adequate response options
- Shorter questions
- A single question at a time
- Affirmative sentences
- Mathematics is not imposed.
- Short or clear reference periods
- Avoid question reference
Question Types to be avoided in a Questionnaire
- The question lacks a goal.
There should be an aim for every query.
The purpose of the proposed study is to evaluate respondents’ knowledge of sexually transmitted illnesses. Which topic did you study at university before you started your latest job? The study is useless if the suggested analytical framework does not consider the respondent’s educational history (by discipline).
- Complex language
The wording used in the survey shouldn’t be challenging to grasp.
The questionnaire should take advantage of the respondents’ terminology.
It is preferable to use basic wording. Using rhetorical and elitist language causes issues while distributing the questionnaire.
When you learned that you had HIV/AIDS, did your spouse’s actions make you more aware of the difficulties in life? Does your partner know that you are HIV positive, for example? If so, have you seen a difference in their behavior? If so, what type?
- Ambiguous concepts
The questions shouldn’t include any ambiguous topics.
What do you think about medical studies that claim that the top class in Nepal has a high rate of HIV transmission after the return of a multiparty system? Medical research, HIV transmission, and the restoration of multiparty democracy are the three main components of this query. Other minor components are the elite group and high prevalence.
The respondent would be unable to generate an informed view.
- Reference to previous questions
Asking questions like “As I asked in Question number 12 above regarding…” is strongly discouraged. To proceed with the interview, you may need to refer back to or cue from earlier questions to remember the respondents’ responses.
- Longer and vague reference periods
Clear and, ideally, shorter reference periods are required. Recall lapse mistakes are caused by a longer reference period. These mistakes mislead the research.
For instance, how many times did you attend the health center for prenatal checkups during the year of a more severe earthquake or within the past ten years? Instead, “How many times during your last pregnancy (or three months) did you attend the health post for a checkup?”
- Questions with calculations
Avoid any queries that need calculations as much as you can. There is a chance that respondents will give incorrect responses because they are reluctant to compute.
Respondents who cannot calculate also submit incorrect answers to cover up their ignorance, and those who can calculate incorrectly often do so to show their confidence in their abilities.
How much of your money, for instance, go for your treatment? The question “How much do you spend on your treatment?” should be preceded by “What is your monthly income?” The calculation should be done during the data processing and analysis phase.
- Give the respondents no stress.
Two negatives (Double-barrelled)
It is important to avoid using double negatives in the question’s wording.
Although it seems like a negation, the double negative offers the phrase a positive connotation. Additionally, it perplexes interviewers and responders.
For instance, “Do you want to leave this spot, so you don’t expose yourself?” It might be wiser to ask, “Do you wish to go from this spot to hide?”
- Two-in-one Questions
Avoid combining two questions into one at all costs.
As a result of this merging, the responder is frequently confused, and depending on their cognitive ability, some respondents respond to the latter and some to the former.
No, all responders offer responses to both questions.
For instance, how many nights did you stay with your spouse when you last visited? There are two questions, and they must be answered separately.
- Posing intrusive or humiliating queries (Wording, Threatening, and Leading)
Biasing should be used when leading and humiliating inquiries.
People find it insulting to respond to these inquiries.
Such inquiries should be avoided, as they often provide skewed responses.
Do you believe that HIV-positive people also have the right to marry? If you have HIV, for example, shouldn’t you still be allowed to be married? These kinds of inquiries demand that the answer fit the tone of the inquiry, be it positive or negative.
- Khatiwada, R. P., Pradhan, B. L. & Poudyal, N. (2015). Research Methodology. KEC Publication, Kathmandu Nepal.
- Kumar, R. (2011). Research methodology: A step-by-step guide for beginners. Los Angeles: SAGE.
- Walliman, Nicholas. Research Methods: The Basics. London: Routledge, 2011. Print.