Conducting research is one of the essentials tools used by many organizations as an accurate and precise method of gathering data. The research team must identify what they want from the research or how they want it to be conducted. Failed researches are brought about by the inaccurate use of the research method. A very common method used by most researchers in the collection of data is through the use of questionnaires.
Choosing the Type of Questionnaire to Use
After deciding to use a questionnaire as the method to conduct research, the next thing to decide on is which type to use. There is an option to formulate open ended questions, closed ended questions, or a combination of the two question types. For an open ended questionnaire, the respondents are free to express their own viewpoints in contrast to the closed questionnaire wherein prewritten response categories are supplied.
If the questionnaire is administered through an interview, the use of open ended questions will do. But if it is self-administered, that is, the respondents supply the data on their own, closed questions are more suitable. However, most researches prefer the use of closed questionnaire over the other because of its efficiency in administering it.
Closed questionnaire tends to be faster to administer and recording of data is quicker. The simplicity of the answers makes the respondents answer only in a predefined manner. Compared to open questions that can possibly trigger new issues, closed questionnaire does not raise new issues and controversies.
However, respondents feel deprived of expressing their opinions and would frustrate them because there may be predefined responses that do not match their personal viewpoints.
Wording and Structure of Questions
In constructing the questions for the questionnaire, wording and structure are to be considered. Jargons and technical terms must not be used as these words are not understood by various respondents. Words with double meaning and words that have a tendency to be misinterpreted should also be avoided. The questions must be kept short and simple but not ambiguous. Get rid of questions that may possibly trigger negative feelings such as annoyance, offence, embarrassment, and sadness. When the respondents answer your questionnaire, they should feel comfortable and at ease in doing it.
Double-barreled questions or two questions in one are discouraged. Instead, separate them into two different questions. Rephrase negative questions to minimize confusion when asked to agree or disagree. For sensitive topics, be indirect in the manner or questioning so that respondents will be willing to answer.
It was mentioned in the earlier paragraphs that closed ended questions are the more common in making a questionnaire. In constructing closed questions, make sure that all possible responses are supplied especially for questions about time and frequency. In the choices, always include “none of the above” for respondents who cannot relate to the question rather than forcing them to choose from any of the answers which may be against their will.
Lastly, refrain from using leading questions as it may lead to different assumptions.
Length and Ordering of Questions
In developing the questionnaire, it has to be kept short and simple. Consider the time factor that respondents will allocate to answer the questions. If the respondents think that they can personally benefit from answering, a longer questionnaire will do.
The use of filter questions may be helpful in answering the questions efficiently and quickly. Irrelevant and unnecessary questions would make respondents pause and eventually become impatient especially if there is no option to skip it.
In the ordering of questions, the level of difficulty should be considered. Always start with easy questions then progress to the more challenging ones. Get the interest of your respondents in filling out your questionnaire. In a closed questionnaire, you can add open ended questions for more information but they should be placed at the end of all closed questions.
A questionnaire that is interesting and easy to follow will prompt the respondents to complete answering all the questions. So, in constructing the questionnaire, produce a variation in the type and length of the questions. It should appear uncluttered with the simple layout and spacing of each question. All these contribute to how well you will be able to gather information from the respondents.