Six Rules for Writing Effective Survey Questions

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1)    Always link your question to research aims and objectives  

  • Ensure the question provides the information needed to fulfill the research objectives 

2)    Keep your questions SHORT AND SIMPLE so the respondents have the best chance to understand them. 

  • The question should only ask one question.
  • The question must be worded appropriately for the target population.
  • The question must be clear, precise, and unambiguous.
  • Make the question simple to understand.
  • Avoid unnecessary adjectives and adverbs.
  • Avoid negatives and double negatives. 

3)    Avoid Emotional Responses 

  • Don’t use emotionally loaded words.
  • Use wording that minimizes the risk of socially acceptable responses
  • The question wording should not lead the respondent to answer in a particular way. 

4)    Put the Question in Context 

  • The wording of the question should not make unwarranted assumptions.
  • The wording should follow a natural order from the previous question. 

5)    Closed Question Must Include The Appropriate Answer Set 

  • All likely answers should be included in the answer set.
  • Answers are mutually exclusive (no overlap).
  • Answers are exhaustive (no gaps).
  • The answer set includes a “Don’t know” or “No opinion” option.

6)    Consider The Response When Developing the Question 

  • Is any recall required within a respondents memory capabilities?
  • Is the respondent likely to have an answer readily available?
  • Will the respondent feel uncomfortable answering this question?
  • Are some of the answers more socially acceptable than other answers?

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