Writing Survey Questions That Work Part II

In yesterday's post we looked at how your survey question items, if worded improperly, may be biased, resulting in unusable or incorrect results. Now we know how survey questions shouldn't look, let's delve deeper into why those previous examples were poorly worded, and how with just a few small adjustments you can easily start to hone question items within your survey forms.

When you design internet surveys, how do you write objective questions that won't bias your results one way or the other?

Here are a few main points:

• Your questions should use non-judgmental wording and neutral terms. This first point is important. Respondents reading your business survey questions should not be able to determine where you stand on any topic.

If your market survey question is phrased neutrally, it wont pre-suppose anything (pre-supposing questions can also be called "leading questions"). E.g. Instead of asking this conference survey question, "How many sessions did you attend at our national meeting?" re-phrase it to ask, "How many sessions, if any, did you attend at our national meeting?" If you are creating an electronic survey, this is also a great place to utilize online web survey features to further tailor your instrument.

• In an effort to save time and money, a common mistake is asking ;"double barreled questions," or two questions posing as only one question. Prevent these situations by splitting the one question into two after the word "and". Instead of "How likely is it you will attend our convention this year and accept our incentive offers?" ask "How likely is it you will attend our convention this year?," and "How likely is it you will accept our incentive offers?"

Whenever possible, always attempt to use words that everyone will readily understand. This holds true for grammar structure as well. Always define terms within your survey form for the respondent, particularly if the word can have more than one meaning. This holds especially true for international surveys. For example if you are asking salary information, be sure to specify what denomination you would like the respondent to convert their salary into.

These first few points are a great starting place when you're designing a questionnaire. The final post in this series will look at a few final survey best practice tips for writing great survey questions and the benefits you'll gain from crafting quality items. In the meantime, questions previously stored in our question library already come properly worded and ready for use!
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