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Smart Survey Design

respondents may get into a pattern of response that does not reflect their actual thoughts. They may simply just click the 1st rating scale every time to answer every question and finish the survey quickly (Brace 2004, 18).

B. Constructing Good vs. Bad Questions:

Each survey question has a unique need. Because of this, there is no universal right or wrong of “question wording.” However, there are ways to construct good vs. bad ones. The following four criteria can help you when wording and structuring your questions (Iarossi 2006, 30-44):

Be Brief

Be

Be

Be

Objective

Simple

Specific

1.) Be Brief – Keep questions short and ask one question at a time. Longer questions may quickly become confusing, thus resulting in a misread of what you are asking. Remember: Brevity’s goal is to create the shortest way to ask a question without losing its intent. It is not always about reducing the length of the question (Iarossi 2006, 30-44)!

2.) Be Objective – As the survey designer, pay attention to the neutrality of the words. This helps to avoid unintentional violation of the survey’s objectivity. Here are some tips to avoid violating the objectivity (Iarossi 2006, 30-44):

  • A.

    Avoid leading questions – Based on their content, wording, or structure, these kinds of questions may lead a respondent towards a certain answer. According to Iarossi, the following three items aid in the creation of leading questions and survey writers should always try and avoid these (33-35):

    • Failure to give equal weight to all options.

    • The actual set of options offered acts as a source of information.

    • The actual list of options provided will influence the respondents, meaning the options that appear in the beginning of a long list have the “primacy effect” and have a higher likelihood of being selected.

A good way to deter the “primacy effect” is to make the answer choices appear in a random order every time the survey opens up to a new respondent. This can

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