The Do’s & Don’ts of Quantitative Questionnaires



Questionnaire design is both an art and a science. It entails much more than creating a list of questions and throwing them into a document. It requires the researcher to recognize what an effective rhythm for a survey “feels like”;  the ability to balance the objectives of a client – who may want to try to squeeze as many questions and topics possible into the instrument – with the realities of yielding reliable, projectable data.


Here are five tips to help you plan what TO DO for your next quantitative questionnaire:

  1. Word each question in a style geared to your respondent audience.  
  2. Design screening questions that will capture a fresh pool of qualified respondents.  
  3. Use a design approach that’s compatible with how your survey will be administered.   
  4. Confirm that the questionnaire is programmed correctly.  Then, check it again.  And, yet again.
  5. Include open-ended questions to gain additional insight and nuance into the reasons behind perceptions and behavior.

Since knowing what NOT TO DO is also key to a successful project, here are 5 more tips:

  1. Never begin to design a questionnaire until you have a solid understanding of the client’s business and research objectives. 
  2. Don’t underestimate the importance of the screening questionnaire. 
  3. Don’t forget to allow for every response that a participant might give to a question.
  4. Never use only one question technique for capturing data.
  5. Never forget to run Spell Check and proofread the each iteration of the questionnaire.

Many of these tips surely sounds like common sense…but what is that saying about common sense not being all that common?


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