Creating a strong survey: Choosing the right questions

April 12, 2013

When creating a good survey, there are a number of major components that are needed to solicit accurate responses, including the layout, using a physical or digital format, and effective survey questions. Not only are there different types of questions that can be used – multiple choice, ranking or open-ended – but coming up with the actual questions can also affect responses.

When writing survey questions, basic goals to keep in mind are to make questions simple, unbiased and specific.

Remember that longer and more complicated questions are more likely to turn away participants. The shorter a question, often the less confusing it is, helping readers avoid misunderstanding what you are asking. In order to be simple, make sure that there is no localized or technical jargon that could keep some participants from fully understanding the question. Additionally, try not to use double negatives when writing survey questions to ensure that readers know what question is being asked.

The unbiased goal is a little trickier. To avoid creating loaded or leading questions, questionnaire experts suggest not to using language that may bulk up a question takers ego or pride. Additionally, if an answer is multiple choice and there are many answers, consider changing the order the answers are in for each participant. Otherwise, the first or last few may seem more appealing.

Lastly, in order to write effective survey questions, be specific by using clearly defined words. For some general words, such as often or rarely, respondents may have different ideas of what this means. Specify what you have in mind when asking the question, to ensure question takers and writers are on the same page.

Tab Service Company is a Chicago based company with over 53 years of experience as a data processing service provider.  We provide business with outsourcing solutions for document scanning services, data entry services and mailing/lettershop services.  As a SOC2-approved service organization, we apply industry-best practices to our approach with clients.