Are you putting a survey together? Here is a useful 2 page document from DataCenter of things to think about when formulating your questions, e.g. leading vs. non-leading questions, types of questions.
Excerpt: Tips on Forming Survey Questions
- Keep it Neutral. “How poorly is the president doing on job creation?” is not a neutral question. “How would you rate the president’s performance on job creation?” 1) Very Good 2) Good 3) Average 4) Bad 5) Very Bad– gives the respondent the opening to make her or his own judgment.
- Mix it up. Survey-takers tend to respond to serial questions habitually. If you ask five “yes/no” questions in a row, they may repeat their most common answer- even if it doesn’t apply!
- Vary the types of questions. A multiple choice can be followed by a yes/no; then a ranking question (rate 1 through 5) or a content-related question. 10 yes/no questions in a row can give you 10 “yes” answers even though the respondent meant to say “no” to several of the questions!
- Avoid questions that can be answered with “I don’t know.”
- Ensure that your questions are designed consistently. Avoid broad questions such as “How often you do you read the magazine?” Rather “In the last six months, how often did you read the magazine?” You would design all frequency-based questions with this type of clause.
- Do not combine two questions into one.
- Try to avoid designing questions with multiple answers. For example a question that begins with “circle all that apply” will be more difficult to work with when you are analyzing data.
Download the full handout on Forming Survey Questions.
For more see other guides and worksheets including:
- Starting your Research Project Worksheet
- Data Security Protocols
- Citizen Generated Data: Toolkits and Guides
- How to do Research
- Research Methodologies Comparison Sheet
- Guide to publicly available data sources