Quick tips for writing a quality survey

Designing a quality survey seems simple but for anyone who’s tried, the questions you have increase exponentially with every attempt. Here are just a few quick tips.

1) Start with a precise, well thought out purpose. If a survey question does not specifically answer a purpose, cut it.
2) Write questions that can be measured quantitatively. It will save you time, money, and peace of mind if you those numbers map directly to specific company goals.
3) Keep your survey short. This will lead to higher response rates, less self-opting out, and greater generalizability. When I say short, I mean 15 minutes. Absolutely no more.
4) Keep your questions short. This will lead to higher reading comprehension, greater accuracy, and greater data quality. Ditto for short answers.
5) Use real words. Forget consumption and purchase intent. Talk about eating and buying. We’re not all marketers and we don’t all get those fancy words.
6) Use negatives cautiously and sparingly. The human brain has a unique fondness for NOT seeing this word. Avoid tempting fate. If you must use a negative, try to use a capitalized NOT.
7) Get yourself a survey question design book and learn the art. You might as well do it right and get the right data. You will be amazed at all the other strange things the brain does when it digests a survey.

Good luck!

WRITE‘ by karindalziel via Flickr
Image is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution licence

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One response

  1. That’s Good Advice.

    I once gave a talk on survey question writing, these were some of my recommendations
    – Be specific
    – Use simple language, considerate of the audience
    – Keep questions short
    – Avoid double‐barrelled question
    – Avoid ambiguity
    – Avoid leading questions
    – Avoid loaded / unbalanced questions
    – Avoid making assumptions (Inappropriately assuming knowledge, opinions, or behaviour
    – Avoid negatives and particularly double‐negatives
    – Question can be answered / it applies to the respondent

    See Surveys & Sampling at http://jeromyanglim.blogspot.com/2009/09/teaching-resources.html

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