Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,728,043 articles and books

How to conduct questionnaire surveys.



How to Conduct Questionnaire Surveys

Introduction

Designing, organizing, and conducting a questionnaire survey is like establishing and running a business. Although these activities require technical knowledge and skill, administrative ability, and specific experience or training, the general impression is that, with a little luck, anyone can do them well. Thus, many people assume that starting a business requires no special skills beyond a willingness to try. The annual failure of thousands of new small businesses demonstrates the naivety na·ive·ty or na·ïve·ty  
n.
Artlessness or credulity; naiveté.


naivety or naïveté
Noun

the state or quality of being naive

Noun 1.
 of this assumption. Similarly, the findings from thousands of questionnaire surveys that are unreliable or misleading prove that conducting a viable, reliable questionnaire survey is not as easy as it might seem.

Contrary to common assumptions, a questionnaire is more than a list of questions. Rather, it is a scientific instrument for measuring and collecting particular kinds of data. And, like all other scientific instruments, a questionnaire must be designed in accordance Accordance is Bible Study Software for Macintosh developed by OakTree Software, Inc.[]

As well as a standalone program, it is the base software packaged by Zondervan in their Bible Study suites for Macintosh.
 with particular specifications and tailored to the specific aims of the surveyor.[2] Only by careful "soup-to-nuts" planning, construction, and implementation can reliance be placed upon the results of the questionnaire survey. To assist anyone planning to conduct a questionnaire survey, this article provides a comprehensive checklist of items to consider in questionnaire development (figure 1). These items take the surveyor from the initial survey planning stages through instrument design and development and on to actual survey implementation. By following the information and suggestions provided here, surveyors can use a systematic methodology to collect valid data and achieve reliable results.

Planning the Survey

What question or questions are to be answered by the survey?

Before the survey can be undertaken, the surveyor must be able to present its objective clearly and specifically. What is the problem that the survey will address? Typically, the general nature of this problem has been determined already. However, the surveyor must further define the specific problem that is to be studied objectively and scientifically in the survey.

Next, the surveyor must determine the facts needed to answer the problem statement. What are the specific questions to be answered by the survey? What data need to be collected? Collecting information for its own sake rarely justifies the effort required to assemble and present it. Therefore, the survey should not pose questions whose answers are interesting but unessential to the main thrust of the investigation. In making these determinations, the surveyor should keep in mind the survey's end user - the agency or individuals who will use the survey findings. By keeping these potential consumers in mind, the surveyor is more likely to determine those questions that will be most meaningful and useful.

How and by whom will the results be used?

This question is related to the previous one. In developing the survey plan, the surveyor must keep in mind the characteristics and information needs of the survey's eventual consumers. While it is not possible to foresee fore·see  
tr.v. fore·saw , fore·seen , fore·see·ing, fore·sees
To see or know beforehand: foresaw the rapid increase in unemployment.
 all the misuses to which survey statistics may be put, many abuses can be prevented if the surveyor is aware of the consumers' needs.

How large an effort is needed?

Depending on the nature of the problem to be addressed and the amount of information already available on that topic, the surveyor may want to use the survey as a small preliminary or pilot study to form the basis for recommended subsequent research.

This option, however, is rarely available: more often the problem needs to be addressed in full immediately. In these cases, the surveyor should have some control or input relative to planning the survey's required funding and time. The surveyor should ensure that sufficient funds will be available not only for the collection of the necessary data but for their tabulation tab·u·late  
tr.v. tab·u·lat·ed, tab·u·lat·ing, tab·u·lates
1. To arrange in tabular form; condense and list.

2. To cut or form with a plane surface.

adj.
Having a plane surface.
, analysis, and presentation. Similarly, the surveyor should ensure that sufficient time is allotted al·lot  
tr.v. al·lot·ted, al·lot·ting, al·lots
1. To parcel out; distribute or apportion: allotting land to homesteaders; allot blame.

2.
 for questionnaire development, distribution, collection, followup, and for resolving any problems that may arise. If either the survey budget or schedule is under-estimated, the survey is not likely to be successful.

Is the desired information already available?

No survey should be undertaken until the surveyor is satisfied that the required facts have not already been collected. Often, a careful search will show that some of the desired information is already published or on file. However, if the available facts are inconclusive INCONCLUSIVE. What does not put an end to a thing. Inconclusive presumptions are those which may be overcome by opposing proof; for example, the law presumes that he who possesses personal property is the owner of it, but evidence is allowed to contradict this presumption, and show who is , outdated out·dat·ed  
adj.
Out-of-date; old-fashioned.


outdated
Adjective

old-fashioned or obsolete

Adj. 1.
, or otherwise insufficient, the surveyor can profit by avoiding the mistakes of the earlier survey or by expanding upon Noun 1. expanding upon - adding information or detail
expansion

step-up, increase - the act of increasing something; "he gave me an increase in salary"
 those aspects that the original did not emphasize.[3]

How will information be obtained?

Once the problem to be investigated has been defined and the decision to conduct a survey finalized See finalization. , the surveyor should next decide what survey method should be used to obtain the desired information from the respondents In the context of marketing research, a representative sample drawn from a larger population of people from whom information is collected and used to develop or confirm marketing strategy. . Three general survey procedures are available:

* Personal (face-to-face) interview.

* Telephone interview.

* Self-administered questionnaires.

The advantages and disadvantages of these procedures are shown in figure 2.

What kind of sampling is appropriate?

Although it is sometimes possible to survey an entire population, generally this technique would result in an unwieldy amount of data. To limit the population surveyed, a sample is drawn to reflect the characteristics of the total population. By using a carefully drawn sample, the surveyor is assured that potential respondents have been selected in a standard, scientific manner.

Many surveyors assume that a sample can be drawn unsystematically Adv. 1. unsystematically - in an unsystematic manner; "his books were lined up unsystematically on the shelf"
consistently, systematically - in a systematic or consistent manner; "they systematically excluded women"
 - e.g., by accident or self-selection - and thereby yield a random sample. This assumption is incorrect: unsystematic sampling may be biased at worst or unrepresentative Adj. 1. unrepresentative - not exemplifying a class; "I soon tumbled to the fact that my weekends were atypical"; "behavior quite unrepresentative (or atypical) of the profession"  at best. Because many surveyors fail to decide what population they are sampling, they have no way of knowing if they are exposing all of the population to the sampling process. A similar problem exists when the source or list from which the sample is chosen does not represent the population. Therefore, the surveyor must first define the survey population and then select a method or methods of sampling it. Following are descriptions of the most commonly used sampling types:

* Random sampling.

* Stratified sampling Noun 1. stratified sampling - the population is divided into subpopulations (strata) and random samples are taken of each stratum
proportional sampling, representative sampling

sampling - (statistics) the selection of a suitable sample for study
.

* Purposive pur·po·sive  
adj.
1. Having or serving a purpose.

2. Purposeful: purposive behavior.



pur
 sampling.

By using two or more of these sampling techniques, a survey can capitalize on Cap´i`tal`ize on`   

v. t. 1. To turn (an opportunity) to one's advantage; to take advantage of (a situation); to profit from; as, to capitalize on an opponent's mistakes s>.
 their combined advantages and counterbalance their disadvantages. This method is called double or mixed sampling.

Random Sampling. Random sampling assures each individual or element in the population the same chance of being chosen for inclusion in the survey. If the sample is chosen at random and is sufficiently large In mathematics, the phrase sufficiently large is used in contexts such as:
is true for sufficiently large
, it will represent all the groups in the population in approximately the correct proportions. One advantage of random sampling is no advance knowledge of the characteristics of the population is necessary. A disadvantage of the technique is that a low percentage of returns could result in an accidental sample.[3]

Stratified Sampling. Stratified sampling is frequently recommended as the most efficient procedure for ensuring representativeness.[3] The procedure calls for dividing the population into two or more strata and then drawing a random sample from each stratum stratum /stra·tum/ (strat´um) (stra´tum) pl. stra´ta   [L.] a layer or lamina.

stratum basa´le
. Stratified sampling may be proportional or disproportional dis·pro·por·tion·al  
adj.
Disproportionate.



dispro·por
 depending on the number of samples selected within each stratum. In proportional stratified sampling, samples are drawn from each stratum in the same proportion as they occur in the population. Consequently, the only difference between proportional sampling Noun 1. proportional sampling - the population is divided into subpopulations (strata) and random samples are taken of each stratum
representative sampling, stratified sampling

sampling - (statistics) the selection of a suitable sample for study
 and random sampling is that the former ensures that the right proportion is obtained from each stratum.[3] In disproportional stratified sampling, an equal number of samples is secured from each stratum, thereby facilitating reliable comparison of the different strata. The goal of obtaining an equal number of samples, however, is very difficult to achieve in actual practice.

Purposive Sampling. The objective of purposive sampling is to make the sample look like the population. There are several ways of doing this:

* Select the sample so its averages

ages are the same as the population

averages for known characteristics

believed relevant

to the phenomenon being

investigated.

* Select the sample so its frequency

distribution of each relevant

characteristic resembles

the population's frequency distribution.

* Select the sample so it will contain

the same proportions as

the population's at the upper

and lower ends of the frequency

distribution (deciles,

quartiles, etc.).

* Select the sample so that it's

variability (e.g., standard deviation In statistics, the average amount a number varies from the average number in a series of numbers.

(statistics) standard deviation - (SD) A measure of the range of values in a set of numbers.
)

is the same as the population

variability.

One advantage of purposive sampling is it may be cheaper than other sampling techniques. A major disadvantage is that much must be known about the population before sample selection.

How big a sample is needed?

The optimum sample size ensures efficiency, representativeness, and reliability. It should provide the most useful information with the required level of reliability at the minimum cost. The sample should be large enough to yield statistically representative and significant results in all key proposed tabulations and to avoid intolerable sample error. It should not be so large, however, as to waste funds, delay the project, or achieve a needlessly need·less  
adj.
Not needed or wished for; unnecessary.



needless·ly adv.

need
 high level of precision.

When trying to determine the optimum size of the sample, the surveyor should follow the guidance provided below. In general, the surveyor should note that it is sound practice to err on the side of too large a sample rather than too small.[3]

To determine optimum sample size, the surveyor should perform the following.

Secure preliminary information about the population. If the sample will be used to make a percentage estimate of the population, a preliminary estimate of the approximate size of this percentage is needed. On the other hand, if the purpose is to predict the average of the population, the surveyor needs an estimate of the standard deviation. Fortunately, both these estimates can be rough and still prove useful.

Determine the required precision of the prediction. This determination depends upon the error permissible per·mis·si·ble  
adj.
Permitted; allowable: permissible tax deductions; permissible behavior in school.



per·mis
 in the estimate and the degree of confidence that the estimate will fall within the permissible error.

Calculate the required sample size. For estimating percentages, use

n = pq[z.sup.2]/[t.sup.2] where p = the preliminary estimate

of the percentage q = 100 - p z = the number of standard

error units (from a normal

probability table) T = the required precision or

tolerance Example: Suppose we are permitted a [+ or -] 5-percent error in estimating from a population the percentage of engineers with 10 years or more of experience. Assume we will be satisfied with a 90-percent degree of confidence that the estimate will fall within the 5-percent tolerance. We have reason to believe that the percentage of engineers with 10 years or more of experience is somewhere around 75 percent. Substituting in the formula above, we have:

n = (75)(25)[(1.64).sup.2] /[(5).sup.2]

n = 202

n = (75)(25)[(1.64).sup.2]/[5.sup.2]

Thus, we need to take a random sample large enough to assure responses from about 200 engineers if we want a 90-percent probability that the true percentage is within [+ or -] 5-percent.

For estimating averages, use [Mathematical Expression A group of characters or symbols representing a quantity or an operation. See arithmetic expression.  Omitted] where

[sigma] = the estimated standard

deviation DEVIATION, insurance, contracts. A voluntary departure, without necessity, or any reasonable cause, from the regular and usual course of the voyage insured.
     2.
 

z = the number of standard

error units

T = the required precision or

tolerance Example: Suppose we want to estimate the average design strength of concrete pavement mixes within 100 lb per square in (psi PSI - Portable Scheme Interpreter ) (7.0 kg/[cm.sup.2]). Let us assume we will be satisfied with a 95-percent degree of confidence that our estimate will fall within the 100-psi (7.0 kg/[cm.sup.2]) tolerance.

If we use 300 psi (21.1 kg/[cm.sup.2]) as the estimated standard deviation of concrete pavement mix design strength, we can substitute in the formula above: [Mathematical Expression Omitted]

n = 35

Thus, we need to take a random sample large enough to assure 35 responses regarding concrete pavement mix design strength if we want a 95-percent probability of estimating the average design strength within [+ or -] 100 psi (7.0 kg/[cm.sup.2]).

If the preliminary estimate of either the percentage or standard deviation proves to have been too large, the computed sample size also will have been larger than necessary and therefore conservative; the preliminary estimate may also come out too small, with the opposite result. To help set sample size, the surveyor should try various estimates in the formula to see what effect each has on the computed sample size.

Construction of the

Questionnaire

Is there a clear understanding of the topic to be addressed?

If the questionnaire is to be meaningful to others, the surveyor needs to have a good working knowledge of the topic to be addressed. If the surveyor does not fully understand the topic, the questions may be vague or ambiguous, complex issues may be oversimplified o·ver·sim·pli·fy  
v. o·ver·sim·pli·fied, o·ver·sim·pli·fy·ing, o·ver·sim·pli·fies

v.tr.
To simplify to the point of causing misrepresentation, misconception, or error.

v.intr.
, insufficient space may be provided for responses, etc. In such cases, respondents may show their frustration by either rushing through the questionnaire, providing only superficial superficial /su·per·fi·cial/ (-fish´al) pertaining to or situated near the surface.

su·per·fi·cial
adj.
1. Of, affecting, or being on or near the surface.

2.
 answers or not responding at all.

Are needed definitions provided?

Related to understanding the survey topic is the concept of understanding the respondents. The surveyor must: * Understand the respondents'

language, and use it correctly.

* Not talk down to the respondents.

* Not assume too quickly that respondents

will understand the

question in the intended frame

of reference.

* Ensure that the questions have

the same meaning for all respondents.[4]

Additionally, definitions of key terms used in the questionnaire should be provided. There should not be too many definitions, nor should the definitions be lengthy or complicated. The definitions may appear together in a section above the questions themselves; if only one or two definitions are to be given, it may be more appropriate to include them in notes following the respective question. The objective is to get the respondents to read and understand each definition.

How long should the questionnaire be?

The percentage of questionnaires returned decreases as the number of pages increases from 1 to 10. (Interestingly, there does not seem to be a significant difference in the percentage of returns as pages increase from 10 to 35.) Although evidence suggests that with the proper incentives and a carefully pretested form, certain groups will respond thoroughly to a very long questionnaire. However, the best approach is to keep the form as short as possible to obtain the needed information.[3]

To keep the questionnaire's length down, the surveyor should evaluate each proposed question separately. Only those questions bearing directly on the problem should be included; answers to question that can be secured from other sources may be deleted Deleted

A security that is no longer included on a specified market. Sometimes referred to as "delisted".

Notes:
Reasons for delisting include violating regulations, failing to meet financial specifications set out by the stock exchange and going bankrupt.
 unless absolutely necessary as a check.

Are the right type(s) of questions being asked?

There is no generally accepted type of question that can be universally recommended for all questionnaires. Rather the type(s) of questions selected for use in a given questionnaire should depend primarily on the anticipated tabulation plan (i.e., how will the data be grouped in the tables?). To determine the appropriate type(s) of questions to use, the surveyor should both consider the tabulation plan and the strengths and limitations of the various types of questions as presented below.

Open-End Questions. Open-end questions give respondents free latitude latitude, angular distance of any point on the surface of the earth north or south of the equator. The equator is latitude 0°, and the North Pole and South Pole are latitudes 90°N and 90°S, respectively.  in making their responses. An example of such a question is "What is the principal reason for your dislike of product A?" A drawback DRAWBACK, com. law. An allowance made by the government to merchants on the reexportation of certain imported goods liable to duties, which, in some cases, consists of the whole; in others, of a part of the duties which had been paid upon the importation.  to their use is that open-end questions may yield such a variety of responses that the task of condensing con·dense  
v. con·densed, con·dens·ing, con·dens·es

v.tr.
1. To reduce the volume or compass of.

2. To make more concise; abridge or shorten.

3. Physics
a.
 and analyzing them is both time consuming and difficult to handle statistically. Open-end questions are often used in the exploratory phases of a study when the area covered by the question is still not well understood.

Dichotomous di·chot·o·mous  
adj.
1. Divided or dividing into two parts or classifications.

2. Characterized by dichotomy.



di·chot
 Questions. These questions elicit e·lic·it  
tr.v. e·lic·it·ed, e·lic·it·ing, e·lic·its
1.
a. To bring or draw out (something latent); educe.

b. To arrive at (a truth, for example) by logic.

2.
 either/or responses (yes/no, true/false, good/bad, etc.) They usually also allow for a third response such as "don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)

"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party.
," "neither," etc. Surveryors, however have found that if the noncommittal third alternative is not given, relatively few respondents will fail to make a choice between the two options presented, thereby "forcing" some respondents to take definite stand when actually they would not do so otherwise. The chief advantage of the dichotomous question is its simplicity. One of its limitations is that a slight misunderstanding of the question's meaning may result in a complete reversal of response. (3)

Multiple Choice Questions. Multiple choice questions allow respondents to choose from among several possible answers. The list of alternatives must be complete enough to cover all possible answers. Multiple choice question results can be tabulated easily and interpreted with greater precision than can answers to open-end questions. Multiple choice questions may take any of several forms; arguably ar·gu·a·ble  
adj.
1. Open to argument: an arguable question, still unresolved.

2. That can be argued plausibly; defensible in argument: three arguable points of law.
 the most popular of these are checklists and rating scales.

Checklists. Checklist are multiple choice questions consisting of a statement of the problem or question followed by a list of three or more possible answers. Checklists should be made up only after some preliminary survey or pretest pre·test  
n.
1.
a. A preliminary test administered to determine a student's baseline knowledge or preparedness for an educational experience or course of study.

b. A test taken for practice.

2.
 has determined the types of replies that may be expected; this ensures that most answers will not fall in the "other" category that is usually provided with a limited list. The advantage of the checklist is that it serves to remind respondents of their various options.

Rating Scales. Rating scales allow respondents to choose among various degrees of opinion. The scale may be numerical (e.g., ranging from 1 to 5) or verbal (e.g., ranging from "poor" to "excellent"). Most dichotomous questions can be turned into rating scale questions simply by introducing degrees of opinion to the response options. After doing so, the extreme responses can be sorted out for use in comparative analyses where a high statistical significance level is desired. One problem with rating scale questions, however, is there is often a tendency for the respondent In Equity practice, the party who answers a bill or other proceeding in equity. The party against whom an appeal or motion, an application for a court order, is instituted and who is required to answer in order to protect his or her interests.  to choose a moderate rating. Ranking of Items. In ranking of items questions, the respondent is asked to arrange a list of words, phrases, statements, pictures, etc., in some order. The ranking adds a dimension not found in checklists. However, a limitation of these questions is the fact that the size of the intervals between rankings is usually not the same: the difference between the first and second choices may be much greater than the difference between the second and third choices. Another limitation is the relatively small number of items that may be included. It has been suggested that as few as three choices give the best results; the optimum number probably varies with the subject matter. (3)

Are questions properly worded?

Asking questions to gain desired responses is more difficult than it may seem. The greatest danger in wording questions lies in taking too much for granted regarding language and terminology, reader comprehension comprehension

Act of or capacity for grasping with the intellect. The term is most often used in connection with tests of reading skills and language abilities, though other abilities (e.g., mathematical reasoning) may also be examined.
 and background, etc. Surveyors must develop a critical attitude toward their questions and should carefully analyze the wording of each. The critique is best done during pretest of the questionnaire. Every objection that may be raised about the phrasing should be carefully studied and answered. (4)

Following are some suggestions for wording questions:

* Use simple words and correct punctuation punctuation [Lat.,=point], the use of special signs in writing to clarify how words are used; the term also refers to the signs themselves. In every language, besides the sounds of the words that are strung together there are other features, such as tone, accent, and  

* Use underline underline

an animal's ventral profile; the shape of the belly when viewed from the side, e.g. pendulous, pot-belly, tucked up, gaunt.
 or boldface See boldface font.  type for emphasis.

* Make questions concise and unambiguous.

* Formulate formulate /for·mu·late/ (for´mu-lat)
1. to state in the form of a formula.

2. to prepare in accordance with a prescribed or specified method.
 questions to yield exactly the information desired (e.g., specify the units for the answer) and avoid leading questions, i.e., questions worded in such a way as to suggest the answers.

* Avoid words such as "always" or "any," "about" or "near," "possible," and "should." When using "you" or "your," make it clear whether the second person singular or plural PLURAL. A term used in grammar, which signifies more than one.
     2. Sometimes, however, it may be so expressed that it means only one, as, if a man were to devise to another all he was worth, if he, the testator, died without children, and he died leaving one
 is intended.

* Cover only one point per question. If there are two or more ideas in the question, it will be confusing con·fuse  
v. con·fused, con·fus·ing, con·fus·es

v.tr.
1.
a. To cause to be unable to think with clarity or act with intelligence or understanding; throw off.

b.
 to determine to which thought the answer applies.

* Allow for all possible responses, i.e., multiple choice answers should be mutually exclusive Adj. 1. mutually exclusive - unable to be both true at the same time
contradictory

incompatible - not compatible; "incompatible personalities"; "incompatible colors"
 and complementary and provide for "don't know" and "other" answers.

* Keep asking "What am I assuming or taking for granted by this question?"

Are questions in logical order?

To avoid confusion and misunderstanding, questions should be arranged logically. The questionnaire should, for example, open with a question that can be easily answered, preferably pref·er·a·ble  
adj.
More desirable or worthy than another; preferred: Coffee is preferable to tea, I think.



pref
 with a simple yes or no. If a difficult question is asked at the beginning, respondents may refuse to continue with the questionnaire.

After this important opening question, there must be an easy-to-follow logic, an established order, to the form. Order should be considered at three presentation levels:

* Topics covered by the questionnaire.

* Questions under each topic.

* Response alternatives to a single question.[5]

The surveyor should note that once a train of thought has been established, breaking that sequence can lead to poor results. Thus, a totally unrelated question, suddenly, asked, is not desirable.

Is the questionnaire attractive?

An attractive questionnaire is a strong selling point selling point
n.
An aspect of a product or service that is stressed in advertising or marketing.

Noun 1. selling point - a characteristic of something that is up for sale that makes it attractive to potential customers
 for respondent cooperation. Attractiveness can be accomplished by the appropriate use of colors not of the white race; - commonly meaning, esp. in the United States, of negro blood, pure or mixed.

See also: Color
, pictorial materials, spacing, type, arrangement, etc. Research has shown that yellow paper - followed closely by pink - has the highest percentage of returns; dark-colored questionnaires usually are not effective. (3) The questionnaire should look easy to complete. This goal can be met by requiring very little writing of the respondent and/or arranging the various items so the questionnaire does not appear crowded.

Sending the Questionnaire

Has the questionnaire been pretested?

Regardless of how carefully the questionnaire has been worded, it should not be assumed that it will work well until it has been tested under field conditions. A pretest can be used to check the wording and sequence of questions, questionnaire length, clarity of instructions, effectiveness of cover letter, and other related items. Pretests also enable the surveyor to turn open-ended questions A closed-ended question is a form of question, which normally can be answered with a simple "yes/no" dichotomous question, a specific simple piece of information, or a selection from multiple choices (multiple-choice question), if one excludes such non-answer responses as dodging a  into multiple choice ones.

A pretest is normally done by furnishing the questionnaire to typical respondents, reviewing their responses, and interviewing them to get their reactions, suggestions, and other comments. Based on this feedback, the questionnaire is then revised as appropriate. Especially difficult questionnaires may require several revisions.

Another way to pretest the questionnaire is by developing several different drafts and simultaneously sending a different draft to each of several small samples of respondents. Such a pretest will provide comparative information on relative rates of return, data completeness and appropriateness, data suitability for tabulation, etc.[3]

Is the cover letter effective?

A letter of transmittal Letter of Transmittal

A document used by security holder to accompany certificates surrendered in an exchange or other corporate action.
 soliciting respondent cooperation should accompany the questionnaire. This letter should:

* Be on official letterhead.

* Explain the purpose of the survey and the uses to be made of the data.

* Provide instructions on how to fill out the form (if such instructions are not printed on it).

* Thank the respondent for cooperating.

Customized, personal touches to the letter can be effective in motivating potential respondents. Examples include a hand-written postscript The de facto standard page description language (PDL) in the graphics arts industry as well as in commercial printing. Developed by Adobe, many printers and most imagesetters support PostScript by having a built-in PostScript interpreter.  or personal signature.[3] Another possible "motivator" is including self-addressed stamped or franked envelopes. Finally, promising to furnish fur·nish  
tr.v. fur·nished, fur·nish·ing, fur·nish·es
1. To equip with what is needed, especially to provide furniture for.

2.
 survey results to respondents can also be effective. Of course, such a promise must be fulfilled ful·fill also ful·fil  
tr.v. ful·filled, ful·fill·ing, ful·fills also ful·fils
1. To bring into actuality; effect: fulfilled their promises.

2.
 in a timely manner.

When should the questionnaire be sent?

The surveyor must determine the most opportune op·por·tune  
adj.
1. Suited or right for a particular purpose: an opportune place to make camp.

2. Occurring at a fitting or advantageous time: an opportune arrival.
 time for sending out the questionnaire. This choice may be based on several factors, since the season of the year, the month, week, or time of the week during which a questionnaire should arrive in order to have the best chance of being filled out will vary with the type of respondent. (For example, a survey of construction engineers might best be done in the winter months when work is not at its peak.) The surveyor should also take into account the timing of the mailing vis-a-vis periods such as holidays, extremely hot weather, and important national events.

When and how to followup?

Followup of some kind is usually required to ensure an adequate rate of response. (3) The first followup might take the form of a short note or postcard reminding the recipient of the overdue OVERDUE. A bill, note, bond or other contract, for the payment of money at a particular day, when not paid upon the day, is overdue.
     2. The indorsement of a note or bill overdue, is equivalent to drawing a new bill payable at sight. 2 Conn. 419; 18 Pick.
 questionnaire. A tactful tact·ful  
adj.
Possessing or exhibiting tact; considerate and discreet: a tactful person; a tactful remark.



tact
 suggestion may be included to disregard the reminder if the reply is on the way. The second reminder may include a copy of the questionnaire since the respondent may have misplaced mis·place  
tr.v. mis·placed, mis·plac·ing, mis·plac·es
1.
a. To put into a wrong place: misplace punctuation in a sentence.

b.
 the original. This second followup may also take the form of a telephone call.

The first followup activity should be undertaken when the daily returns have dwindled down to a trickle. Subsequent followups, if needed, should be spaced closer and closer together.

The acceptable percentage of responses depends on such variables as type of respondent, size of the questionnaire, subject matter, etc. However, it is not unrealistic to expect a 75-percent or greater rate of response for most questionnaires.[6]

Summary

This article is intended to provide guidance for the development of generic questionnaires. While the examples provided are engineering- or highway-related, the discussion may be equally applicable to questionnaires in other fields.

There is more to developing good questionnaires than just wording good questions. Weeks of planning and exploratory work are often needed. Thus, it is important that the surveyor schedule sufficient time. Successful questionnaire development includes identifying the specific problem, understanding the subject matter, and knowing the respondents. Appropriate survey method, sample size, type of sampling, and type of questions have to be given adequate consideration. The use of pretest is probably the greatest help in devising the actual wording of questions. The surveyor should also think well ahead of the data analysis phase. Because each survey tends to present its own problems, no amount of advice or guidance can substitute for thoughtful care, common sense, and good organization.

References

[1] J.C. Stamp. Criticism and Other Addresses, Books for Libraries Press, Salem, NH, 1966.

[2] A.N. Oppenheim. Questionnaire Design and Attitude Measurement, Basic Books, Inc., New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
, 1966.

[3] M.B. Parten. Surveys, Polls, and Samples: Practical Procedures, Harper and Brothers Publishers, New York, 1950.

[4] S.L. Payne. The Art of Asking Questions, Princeton University Princeton University, at Princeton, N.J.; coeducational; chartered 1746, opened 1747, rechartered 1748, called the College of New Jersey until 1896. Schools and Research Facilities
 Press, Princeton, 1973.

[5] S. Dutka, L.R. Frankel, and J. Roshwalb. Audits and Surveys, Audits and Surveys, Inc., New York, 1982.

[6] Office of Management and Budget The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), formerly the Bureau of the Budget, is an agency of the federal government that evaluates, formulates, and coordinates management procedures and program objectives within and among departments and agencies of the Executive Branch. , "Memorandum on Reporting Burden Reduction Program to Heads of Executive Departments," February 17, 1977, Washington, DC.

PHOTO : Figure 1. - Questions development checklist.

PHOTO : Figure 2. - Advantages and disadvantages of three popular survey procedures.[3]

Peter A. Kopac is a research highway engineer in the Pavements Division, Office of Engineering and Highway Operations Research operations research

Application of scientific methods to management and administration of military, government, commercial, and industrial systems. It began during World War II in Britain when teams of scientists worked with the Royal Air Force to improve radar detection of
 and Development, Federal Highway Administration The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is a division of the United States Department of Transportation that specializes in highway transportation. The agency's major activities are grouped into two "programs," The Federal-aid Highway Program and the Federal Lands Highway  (FHWA FHWA Federal Highway Administration (US DoT) ). He is a program manager for the Nationally Coordinated Program, "Highway Maintenance." Since joining the FHWA in 1977, Mr. Kopac has worked in the areas of statistical quality control, data collection and analysis, and performance-related specifications. His responsibilities have included management and design of numerous research studies that relied on questionnaire surveys.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Superintendent of Documents
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Kopac, Peter A.
Publication:Public Roads
Date:Jun 1, 1991
Words:4349
Previous Article:Color recognition of retroreflective traffic signs under various lighting conditions.
Next Article:Technology transfers and its tools.
Topics:



Related Articles
Making the Switch to Electronic Surveys.
Research basics: choosing a data-gathering technique and crafting questionnaires. (Foundation Findings).
Good Advice.
BOJ survey finds 60% of consumers feel price rises over past year.
Board defers action on ad rules survey.
Data collection.
More guerrilla marketing research; asking the right people, the right questions, the right way and effectively using the answers to make more money.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters