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Smart Survey Design


A. Question Types:

The types of survey questions used in a survey will play a role in producing unbiased or relevant survey responses. As the survey designer, consider the types of questions to use and when it is appropriate to use them. Question types range from open-ended (comments to essays) to closed-ended (yes/no, multiple choice, rating scale, etc). In the end, it is the question types that determine what type of information is collected.

You may also want to consult with a statistician if you are unsure as to where to begin (e.g. www.StatisticallySignificantConsulting.com) at the design phase of your study. This may help ensure that your data and research questions will lend themselves well to statistical analysis (Creech, Steve 2007). To view examples of the types of questions SurveyMonkey offers, please visit our homepage and access the “types of questions” example link.

1. Open-Ended Types:

Open-ended questions are those that allow respondents to answer in their own words. In an online survey, textboxes are provided with the question prompt in order for respondents to type in their answer. Open-ended questions seek a free response and aim to determine what is at the tip of the respondent’s mind. These are good to use when asking for attitude or feelings, likes and dislikes, memory recall, opinions, or additional comments. However, there can be some drawbacks to using open-ended questions (Brace 2004, 55-62):

    • Sometimes respondents may find it difficult to express their feelings. This can result with respondents answering “I don’t know” or skipping it.

    • They do take more time and effort to fill out and at times they can have a larger skip rate.

    • In addition, analyzing open-ended comments can be time consuming and difficult. We have aimed to make that process a bit easier for Professional subscribers by offering a few summary spreadsheet formats in Excel, HTML, or downloading individual questions into a PDF.

  • 2.

    Closed–Ended Types (Multiple Choice – One Answer or Multiple Answers):

Closed-ended questions are those with pre-designed answers with a small or large set of potential choices. One type of closed-ended question is a “dichotomous” question which allows respondents to choose one of two answer choices (e.g. Yes or No), while

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