Guide to the Development of Research Questionnaires

The process of questionnaire development is divided into three phases, (1) Designing or making (2) Issuing (3) Returning. While designing a research questionnaire, attention should be paid to three important matters;

  1. Appearance of the questionnaire,
  2. Contents of questionnaire, and
  3. Subject-matter.

Design of Questionnaire

To design a good research questionnaire certain steps are needed. These are :

  1. Consult colleagues, friends & acquaintances to get their thinking on the problem.
  2. Formulation of such a list of areas and questions.
  3. Submit this list to experts both in the field of problem and related fields.
  4. Drafting the questionnaire (first stage).
  5. Pre-testing the questionnaire.
  6. Re-examination and revising the questionnaire (second stage).

Physical Appearance of the Questionnaire

Special attention should be paid in order to give a good physical appearance to the research questionnaire so as to get good response from the respondent. Matters requiring special attention include quality and size of paper, type of printing/type letters, margin, spacing, arrangement of items on the questionnaire etc.

Guidelines on Questionnaire Contents

Any questionnaire must be limited in its length and scope. That is, it is usually unwise to expect returns from a questionnaire which requires much more than 10 to 25 minutes, to complete, and to its use is restricted to rather narrow areas of data. Length itself need not be guiding factor in the design. The questionnaire should cover the subject, free from unnecessary repetition, and that the techniques used are those which will meet the demands of study.

The language should be simple; use words of precise (not flexible) meaning; useful to insert a transitional phrase; at the end, use an expression of appreciation for the efforts put forth by the respondent; use cross tabulations and mock tables.

To make the entire schedule or questionnaire a unity (as a unit), there should be a logical progression such that the respondent is;

  1. Drawn (into the interview) by awakening his interest (begin with relevant or harmless questions)
  2. Easily brought along from items which are simple to answer to those which are complex
  3. Not affronted by early and sudden request for personal information and
  4. Never asked to give an answer which could be embarrassing without being given an opportunity to explain.

A final question may be used to make a socially appropriate ending to it or final question may be request for an evaluation of the questionnaire or comment of thanks for cooperation at the end of the form. The questionnaire should have the features of spontaneity and flow, comparability, reliability, stability, validity etc.

According to Pauline V.Young, the following items are mandatory for most forms of the questionnaire:

  • The identification of the agency or organization collecting the data should appear in a prominent place on the front of the form. If the information is collected by one agency and sponsored by another, the names of both agencies should be shown. If the forms are to be returned by mail, the address to which they are to be sent must be clearly specified.
  • The title of the study or survey should be on the front page of the form and usually it is desirable to have it appear in large print. Printing and spacing devices can both be used for obtaining effective emphasis on the major items of the form.
  • The authority for basis or the collection of the information should be stated.
  • The confidentialness of the data should be made clear in such a way that the respondent will be assured of protection.
  • The data of period covered by the report should be stated in advance, or space should be left for them to be filled in by the respondent or the interviewer.
  • If footnotes are needed, the space for recording them should be clearly identified and the amount of space should be determined by the expected number and type.
  • A place should be provided for the signature of the respondent or the interviewer, unless none is required.
  • It is usually advisable to assign a serial number to each questionnaire in order to identify it easily, and to facilitate the control of interviewing assignments.
  • When a questionnaire contains more than one page, each page should be numbered.
  • If the interviewer is permitted to use extra forms, an item should be inserted for the purpose of identifying each from used.

Format of Questionnaire

A questionnaire must be of a good format. An introductory part giving a brief on the study and the need for the questionnaire with a request to fill up the questionnaire, an identification part eliciting personal data of the respondent, and main part dealing with questions / statements relevant to each of the objectives and hypotheses set forth are needed. A conclusion part in the end may be added.

The main part may certain sub-parts, each sub-part dealing with a particular issue studied perhaps, for each objective a separate part may be provided. Questions or statements relevant to an objective may be grouped under one sub-part under a distinct heading.

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