A questionnaire that is going to provide accurate, good-quality information needs to be thought about and planned, before a single question is written. The sequence of the different topics that may be covered by the questionnaire, the sequence of individual questions and the sequence in which prompted responses are given can all dramatically affect the accuracy and reliability, of the collected data. It is also essential to plan the routeing so that respondents are asked the questions that they should be asked and are not asked those that are irrelevant to them.
From the research objectives and, if possible, the business objectives as well, it should be clear what data need to be collected, in outline if not in detail. Once the researcher knows the definition of the research universe, the data collection medium and the survey design, the questions themselves can be drafted. The steps in planning are:
- Define the principal information that is required.
- Determine the secondary information that is required for analysis purposes.
- Map the flow of the subject areas or sub-sections within the questionnaire.
The questionnaire writer should ask the questions that are relevant to the objectives and not be tempted to ask questions of areas that might be of interest but not relevant to the objectives. To do so is to waste resources in terms of the time of everyone involved, including the respondents, and to spend money unnecessarily.
Source: Brace Ian (2018), Questionnaire Design: How to Plan, Structure and Write Survey Material for Effective Market Research, Kogan Page; 4th edition.