All regulations sing the preparation of questionnaire inquiries – no affair who has created them and where they are to be found – have one important disadvantage: they merely have limited usage. Of class. they are more or less suited as “general guides” which can indicate you in a general way. but their importance normally diminishes when it comes to explicating specific inquiries for specific questionnaires. It is so necessary to rethink each preparation and. while the regulations sing the preparation of inquiries can offer some support or be helpful. they do non pardon you from reevaluating their cogency and effectivity for each inquiry.
So when you are developing your questionnaire inquiries you should pay attending to the undermentioned “ten regulations for explicating questions” . You should besides observe that they are non fixed. irrevokable regulations which can be followed blindly. The bulk of the regulations leave room for reading so – as you will see – they frequently contradict each other so they should non ever be to the full observed. You should see the “10 rules” critically when you are inquiring yourself whether your specific inquiries are “good” .
It is obvious why inquiries need to be “good“ . intending methodical and technically unflawed. as hapless inquiries lead to hapless consequences and no weighting or analysis procedure in the universe can do good consequences out of hapless informations Survey tip 1: Use simple. unambiguous footings. which can be understood by all respondents in the same manner! The construct of a inquiry being understood by all respondents in the same manner is vitally of import when transporting out standardised questionnaires. The opportunities of accomplishing this purpose depend on whether the inquiries are merely and clearly ( or instead unequivocally ) formulated. But whether a inquiry is “simply” or “unambiguously” formulated really much depends on the people you intend to inquire. Certain preparations may good be simple and apprehensible for an economic science professor. but that does non intend they will be understood by other people. Let’s take the undermentioned inquiry as an illustration:
“How do you believe the concern rhythm in Germany will develop between now until the terminal of 2001 compared to the current state of affairs? Very positively. positively. negatively. really negatively or will it remain the same? “
While the aforesaid economic sciences professor should ( hopefully! ) be able to understand and reply this hard inquiry. the same should non be expected of everyone. Is the term “business cycle” familiar ( and used in the right manner ) ? Is the graduated table apprehensible? The undermentioned preparation would be better: “Do you think it is necessary to hold a household in order to be truly happy or do you believe you can be merely as happy populating entirely? “
Anyone who thinks this inquiry is simple and unambiguous should demo it to twenty people and inquire them what they understand by “family” and “really happy” ( you can direct me the 20 different definitions by electronic mail! ) .
However. you shouldn’t be excessively rigorous approximately this as it would barely be possible to explicate a questionnaire. Alternatively let’s attempt to explicate inquiries which are “reasonably” simple and unambiguous:
Survey tip 2: Avoid long and complex inquiries!
Long and complex inquiries run the hazard of being inexplicable and confounding the participant. they can incorporate footings which are excess or otiose and/or – possibly even accidentally – contain excessively many different stimulations. Although the inquiry of how complex a questionnaire may be depends to a big extent on the mark group of the questionnaire. the difference between a long and complex inquiry and a short and simple inquiry is obvious. Let’s see the undermentioned illustration:
“As you know. some people are rather politically active. while other people frequently don’t have clip or aren’t interested in taking an active portion in political material. I will now give you a list of things that people do. State me in each instance how frequently you personally do materials or how frequently it happens. ( Followed by a list with the reply classs frequently – sometimes – seldom – never. ) First. how frequently do you hold a political treatment? ” Apart from the sloppy usage of the English linguistic communication ( “political stuff” . “a list of things. . . that people do” ) . information is provided which isn’t necessary in order to reply the inquiry ( “As you know…” . “other people…” ) ; furthermore it could besides be ill-defined what is meant by holding a “political discussion” . Where does this treatment take topographic point? In public or among friends? With the household or in the saloon? Let’s seek it this manner:
“How frequently do you take portion in public political treatments? Often. sometimes. seldom or ne’er? ” It is simpler. clearer. shorter and less complex. although the reply classs could be reconsidered. Survey tip 3: Avoid conjectural inquiries!
Conjectural inquiries are those which ask the respondent to set themselves in fanciful state of affairss. Whether or non they are able to make this depends in portion to the extent the individual has already dealt with the conjectural state of affairs and how far the conjectural state of affairs is close to or removed from world.
It is possible to cover with the state of affairs if it is conjectural but absolutely imaginable as the respondent already has some experience of the issue. Anyone could reply the undermentioned inquiry. “Let’s assume you have won a million lbs on the lottery – would you so give up work or would you maintain working? “
The inquiry is easy to reply because everyone has thought about “what would go on. if…” But imagine that you wanted to prove the hypothesis that immature people presents would instead hold immediate professional and fiscal success. even if it were on rickety land. than accept reduced. but possibly more secure. occupation chances.
So we ask a immature individual the undermentioned inquiry:
“Imagine you are married and have a 16 twelvemonth old boy who wants to give up his apprenticeship in order to go a professional football player. Would you back up him or would you rede him to finish his apprenticeship? ” Even though the existent option in this inquiry – interrupt or end the apprenticeship – could be rather true to life for immature people. the demands formulated in the inquiries – married. holding a boy with featuring aspirations who has begun an apprenticeship – create an abstract set of general conditions for which people at a immature age will non hold formed an sentiment. The inquiry is excessively conjectural. Survey tip 4: Avoid stimulation and negatives!
Do you like listening to music by Chopin?
contains a individual concrete stimulation. which is “listening to music by Chopin” . and can be answered instantly with “yes” or “no” . depending on whether or non you like listening to music by Chopin. If a 2nd stimulation were to be added. making a dual stimulation. the inquiry becomes confounding. The question…
Do you like listening to music by Chopin and Wagner?
is non in itself absurd because Chopin and Wagner are both great Masterss of classical music. However. the inquiry is non approximately classical music. but instead about rather different types of composer. This is why the inquiry can non be answered clearly. if. for illustration. you like music by Chopin. but don’t like listening to music by Wagner. “Chopin yes. Wagner no” could be a possible correct and imaginable reply. As the respondent may merely reply with a “yes” or “no” we do non cognize if “yes” means that they like listening to Chopin and Wagner or if they are merely responding to one of the stimulation with a “yes” – if so. which one are they responding to? If you want to inquire about both Masterss there is no other option but to inquire two inquiries: “Do you like listening to music by Chopin? ” with the reply classs “yes” and “no” and “Do you like listening to music by Wagner? ” besides with two answer classs “yes” and “no” A dual stimulation is a “technical” mistake when formulating questionnaires. A farther “technical” mistake which frequently occurs can be inquiries with a linguistically negative preparation ( Please note: non to be confused with negative content and linguistically positive points such as “I hatred my job” or “I don’t like making favours for others” ) .
Survey tip 5: Avoid premises and implicative inquiries!
Premises in the preparation of inquiries can take to the respondents being unable to reply decently. because while they agree with the existent statement they do non hold with the portion of the sentence which includes the premise ( this besides applies to inquiries which contain explicit premises which you must hold with before you get to the “actual” inquiry. For illustration: “Does the deficiency of regard schoolchildren have for their instructors. in your sentiment. influence mundane learning methods in schools? “
In the preparation of this inquiry it is declared to be right that schoolchildren have a deficiency of regard for their instructors. This may even be factually right. However. how should the respondent react if they do non portion this clear premise? If the respondent does non hold that schoolchildren have a deficiency of regard for their instructors they won’t ( be able to ) reply the inquiry.
Implicative inquiries have the disadvantage of coercing the respondents into a corner and cut downing their freedom to reply the inquiries. Here is an illustration: “Leading scientists believe that auto exhaust emanations can impede the growing of kids. Do you believe this position is right or do you believe it is incorrect? “
Other comparable types of phrases are “Most people…” or “It has been good documented that…” or “as is good known…” . Phrases such as these either lead to the respondent missing the bravery to belie the authorization of the statement or the bulk of “the others” . so they adapt their reply. It can besides take to people responding to the limitations when replying the inquiry by quite intentionally traveling against the sentiment of the experts or the bulk. In both instances the existent sentiment is non given. instead the respondent adapts or rejects the general sentiment. So the suggestion should be removed from the preparation of the inquiry and alternatively you should inquire: “Do you think the statement. auto exhaust emanations can impede the growing of kids is right or incorrect? “
Survey tip 6: Avoid inquiries which target information to which many respondents likely don’t hold entree! As with the first regulation. the execution of regulation 6 is besides mostly dependent on the mark group you want to inquiry. Answering the question… “Have at that place been steps in your community with respect to implementing the Local Government Act 2000? ” should ( hopefully! ) non be a job for local politicians. but for the “average person” it is hardly possible to reply it. non merely because of the term “Local Government Act 2000″ but besides because they will non hold had to cover with this inquiry until now. They will likely non hold the information at their disposal which is necessary to reply the inquiry ( what is the Local Government Act 2000? how does it impact the community? ) The job is intensified for general cognition inquiries. The question… “Can you name the leader of Liverpool City Council? “
would non be answered right by everyone in Liverpool. The reply is ( as of: April 2009 ) “Warren Bradley” and a country-wide study would uncover even less right replies. So. for inquiries which involve facts or cognition you should ever bear in head the extent to which the mark group would hold entree to the information in order to be able to reply the inquiry sufficiently. If there is any uncertainty it is better to go forth the inquiry out. unless the existent point of the inquiry is to set up cognition or deficiency of cognition.
Survey tip 7: Use inquiries with a clear temporal mention! If you want to utilize inquiries affecting facts or sentiments within a certain period of clip in the yesteryear. nowadays or hereafter you must specify the clip frame. It is of import that the related temporal mention is clear.
Clearly equivocal preparations such as “… recently…” . “ . . in the close future…” or” . Previously. . ” and besides “… during your childhood…” . are wholly at the discretion of the respondent and what they understand by them: “recently” can mention to the last three hebdomads or it can besides intend the last three old ages
The undermentioned types of preparation are besides equivocal: “during the last week” ( does it mention to the calendar hebdomad or the old seven yearss before the study? ) or “ . . when you were 16 old ages old” ( does this refer to the beginning of the 16th twelvemonth of your life or the terminal or something else? ) . On the other manus. unambiguous preparations can utilize specific day of the months or times as an “anchor” . for illustration: “… since the 1st of April” . “ . . on your 16th birthday” . “ . . up until the 31st of January. ” or “ . . in the last three working days…” . Of class the usage of such day of the months or times does non vouch that the respondent will really be able to restrict their replies to these periods of clip. but they do stipulate the clip in which the reply should be confined.
Survey tip 8: Use reply classs which are thorough and disjointed ( free from convergence ) ! Answer classs are disjointed if each individual can delegate one of them with absolute certainty ( provided of class that multiple replies are non allowed ) . In the instance of the question… “How many talks on the topic of “healthy living” have you attended so far in the twelvemonth 2000? ” with the reply classs “none” – “one lecture” – “two to five lectures” – “five or more talks? ” those who have attended precisely five talks will hold trouble replying the inquiry as they could take both the 3rd and the 4th reply classs.
The following reply classs are disjointed: “none” – “one lecture” – “two to four lectures” – “five or more lectures” ? Answer classs are non thorough if the reply which a particular individual would wish to give is non covered by the reply classs. Example: “How many hours do you pass developing questionnaires in a normal working hebdomad? ” none at all – less than three hours – three to less than five hours – between five and ten hours? “
Anyone who is fortunate plenty to pass more than 10 hours developing questionnaires in a normal on the job hebdomad would non be able to give a right reply. That’s why the graduated table should be changed:
none at all – less than three hours – three to less than five hours – five to less than 10 hours – 10 or more hours. Anyone believing this appears slightly wooden is perfectly right. In this instance you could predate the reply classs and inquire an open-ended inquiry. This besides applies to the old inquiry about the “healthy living” talks.
Survey tip 9: Make certain that the context of a inquiry does non hold an ( uncontrolled ) consequence on the reply! We now come to the regulation which in pattern causes the most troubles and is least governable. The fact that inquiries and their corresponding replies can hold an consequence on follow-up inquiries is incontestable and to the full proven. But which inquiries have an consequence on follow-up inquiries? The reply is that we can frequently merely theorize about this when formulating questionnaires. Merely a pretest or in the worst instance scenario merely the information of the questionnaire provide information. provided that mechanisms ( e. g. different versions of the questionnaire with different preliminary inquiries inserted before the inquiry you are interested in ) have been built into the questionnaire. which can command context effects.
We can show this with an illustration. In order to make this we must do an exclusion and give a mention. the undermentioned illustration can be found in Schwarz & A ; Bless ( 1992 ) 1: The question…
“What is your general sentiment of the CDU ( Christian Democratic Union ) ? “
with an reply graduated table from 1 = “very negative” to 11 = “very positive”
we obtain rather different mean values depending on the preliminary inquiry:
A ) “Do you know which place Richard von WeizsÃ¤cker holds outside party political relations? ” – mean value 3. 4 B ) Preliminary inquiry without political content – mean value 5. 2 C ) “Do you know which party Richard von WeizsÃ¤cker has been a member of for over 20 old ages? ” – mean value 6. 5
Depending on whether the well-known and popular former President of the Federal Republic of Germany Richard von WeizsÃ¤cker is excluded from the CDU ( fluctuation A ) or included in the CDU ( fluctuation C ) the CDU is rated with or without WeizsÃ¤cker – with a unusually different consequence. The illustration is persuasive. but it is intricately constructed and can non be generalized. Context effects in questionnaires can be anticipated by contemplation. but can merely be proven by systematic trials.
Make certain when planing your questionnaire that some inquiries do non act upon other inquiries ; in instance of uncertainty a systematic trial is advisable.
1: Schwarz. Norbert & A ; Herbert Bless ( 1992 ) : Assimilation and Contrast Effects in Attitude Measurement: An Inclusion/Exclusion Model. P. 72 – 77 in: Progresss of Consumer Research 19
Survey tip 10: Define ill-defined footings!
Footings are ill-defined if they are non understood at all by respondents or non understood by all respondents in the same manner. The job of ill-defined footings is similar to the job of simple footings in regulation 1and the job of the handiness of information in regulation 6. Basically there is merely one solution: the scheme is non to simplify the inquiry ( sometimes it merely isn’t possible ) or to accommodate the inquiry to the mark group ( this would do the term ill-defined ) . but instead to specify the ill-defined term. Let’s expression at the undermentioned inquiry:
“At what age do you believe the andropause begins for work forces? “
There would be no job with the inquiry if we were to direct it at a random sample of andrologists ( medical specializers for the intervention of male sexual diseases ) . For everyone else the term andropause would hold to be explained. This can be done. harmonizing to the random sample. for illustration. by comparing it to the climacteric or even more by and large:
“The Andropause is a development in the ageing procedure of work forces. which is comparable to the climacteric in adult females. What do you think…” .
Or even more clearly:
“The term andropause describes the procedure of hormonal alterations to work forces. which can impact their emotions and sex life. It is comparable to the female menopausal procedure. besides known as the alteration. What do you think…” . This illustration ends our short debut to the jobs of making study inquiries. As we said at the beginning. general regulations can be highly utile for the development of a questionnaire. but they must ever be adapted to the specific state of affairs of a specific study and the specific questionnaire. So pay attending to the “10 regulations of explicating questions” when developing your questionnaire inquiries. but view them critically when inquiring yourself if your specific inquiries truly are “good” .