by Brett Plummer, Phd
It can be extremely frustrating to invest time, energy, and money in quantitative survey research and not get actionable information. But it can happen when the task of writing quality survey questions is taken for granted. Suggestions from HSM research director, Brett Plummer, PhD, about avoiding such problems were recently published in Quirk's Marketing Research Review.
Click here for a complete copy of his article and recommended do's and don'ts for writing better survey questions. Here's an example of the ideas you'll find in the article:
DO keep your objectives in mind. Instead of getting caught up about the language in the question, consider how you will use the information you obtain. Make sure the question you are asking will really get you the data needed. Example: Many researchers like to use scales as in "Please rate the timeliness of reports on a 1-10 scale." But interpreting the difference between a 7 and an 8 is difficult. A better question might be, "Were you satisfied with the timeliness of the reports you received?" (yes or no). This approach may be even more effective in meeting the objective.
DON'T create confusing or ambiguous questions. Although your survey questions might seem perfectly clear to you, it's important to consider how respondents could interpret them differently. Avoid jargon, don't ask about more than one topic in a question, and test the questions with an objective colleague or in a pretest or pilot phase whenever possible. Example: It's a common pitfall to ask compound questions such as "Please rate the timeliness and quality of the response you received when you called customer service." Separating the question into two parts will make it easier to answer and the data easier to interpret.
Click here for a complete copy of his article.