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Smart Survey Design

another type is the “mutli-chotomous” question, which allows respondents to choose one of many answer choices (Brace 2004, 55-67).

Let’s consider this example that asks similar information but uses different question types to ask for the information:

Question 1: Have you used SurveyMonkey in the last year to send out a survey?

  • Yes

  • No

Question 2: How many times in the last year have you used SurveyMonkey to send out a survey?

  • Zero

  • Once

  • Twice

  • More than 3 times

Question 3: If you had to estimate, how many times have you used SurveyMonkey to send out a survey? (Please write in an estimate number) __________

In this example, Question 3 (the open-ended question type) provides the most detail. Here a respondent can type in the actual number or the estimated number of times s/he has used the tool. The first type, Question 1 example, is the best for setting up a skip logic scenario, consent form, or for basic/general information gathering. For closed-ended questions, like Question 1 and 2, it is important to create answer choices that cover all possible answers that are expected from that question. If you make the choices mutually exclusive (or unable to all be true at the same time), then the participant is able to choose the best possible answer (“Survey how to”).

2. Ranked or Ordinal Questions:

Ranking questions are best to use when all the choices listed should be ranked according to a level of specification (e.g. level of importance). If you have a question in which you need the respondents to indicate what items are the “most important” to “least important,” then you can set up a ranking question (Waddington 2000). In this example on page 11, you can create a Rating type question in SurveyMonkey and set the “forced ranking” option. This allows only one row (answer choice) to have that rating applied. Example: If you choose “survey templates” as your 1st choice, then no other row can be selected as the 1st choice. The Forced Ranking option won’t allow it.

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