The research questionnaire design is one of the most important elements in the success of your research. If you are using a research questionnaire as a tool in collecting data you should know the basics of questionnaire design. The questionnaire is one of the most powerful tools of survey research. Its use is more common in the social sciences and psychology. Collecting data using a questionnaire is easier as compared to the other methods of survey research. The actual difficulty of the questionnaire lies in its design. You need to know some basic guidelines to design a questionnaire for your research. There are several websites that offer questionnaire designs and questionnaire templates, you can design questionnaire yourself if you know the basic rules of questionnaire formatting. The poorly designed questionnaire does not get good response from the respondents. As a researcher you should design a questionnaire with perfection.
What is a Questionnaire (A Research Questionnaire)
A questionnaire consists of a list of questions that the researcher asks from the respondents. The researcher develops a set of questions that are relevant to his research and the answers to which he wants to gain from the respondents. The researcher administers the questionnaire to the respondents and the respondents give responses to those questions. Once the questionnaires are administered to the respondents the researcher cannot change the questions. Neither he can ensure that the respondents will give full responses. The researcher can make the statements on the questionnaire in an interactive manner that will motivate the respondents to answer each and every question in the research questionnaire. He should also order the questionnaire in the most appropriate manner to facilitate the respondents in answering the questions. The research questionnaire is designed to achieve raw data that has to be analyzed and concluded.
Characteristics of the Questions in the Research Questionnaire
Making a question is an art as well as science; you need to know the psychology of the people to whom you are going to ask these questions. You might want to ask a simple question like what is your age but asking such a question from a young lady is different from asking similar question from an elderly woman who may want to hide her age. You should have the skills to ask the questions in a polite and mild manner so that respondents give the right responses. There are several other factors that you should consider in designing the questions for your research questionnaire.
- Easy to understand questions will get more responses. Sometime we ask a simple question in a difficult manner and people cannot understand our meaning. Don’t try to make the sentences difficult rather use simple language.
- Double meanings should be avoided as they can confuse the respondents. The research questionnaire is administered to a remote population and you don’t have the option to explain the questions. Having double meanings in the questions can confuse the respondents. You will get biased answers if your questionnaire contains double meaning questions.
- Free of bias and free of any prejudice: every question should have to be as neutral as possible. The researcher should ensure that no personal bias has been introduced in the research questionnaire.
- Free of ambiguities: ambiguities occur when you could not phrase the questions properly. Ambiguities also occur when the researcher is not sure about the research and its objectives.
- Avoid the use of leading questions that can confuse the respondent. The research questionnaire should have neutral questions. The researcher should let the respondent decide what he wants to answer.
Administering the Questionnaire There are several ways to administer the questionnaire to the target population. The research questionnaire should get maximum response from the respondents. To maximize the output you should use the most appropriate method of research questionnaire administration. There is no single method that can be used all the time. Some of the common approaches can be as follows.
- Online administration is new but it is gaining popularity. Since you can deal a vast and far spread population in this method. Like any other method of research questionnaire administration you cannot ensure a full response in this method.
- Administration group is another method that has been in use since long time. In this method you can administer the research questionnaire to the target population at one time and the response rate is high. You can even have a dialogue with the respondents in case they encounter any difficulty. It is by far the best method of administering the research questionnaire.
- You can also take the advantage of a public gathering, where lots of people have been gathered. You cannot use this method if you are using random sampling.