Ipsos Encyclopedia - Questionnaire

Simply put, a "questionnaire" is a set of printed or written questions with a choice of answers, devised for the purposes of a survey or statistical study. In the research industry, it is often the core document for development and refinement, which contains questions designed to answer the research objectives posed by our clients.

QuestionnaireDefinition

Simply put, a "questionnaire" is a set of printed or written questions with a choice of answers, devised for the purposes of a survey or statistical study. In the research industry, it is often the core document for development and refinement, which contains questions designed to answer the research objectives posed by our clients.

Ipsos Point Of View

Questionnaire design is about creating a balance between the comprehensive coverage of research areas through well-designed questions and making the survey appealing so that potential respondents are encouraged to complete the survey. The purpose of measurement is to produce comparable and consistent information about many people or events. We design instruments to maximise participation based on a few key principles:

  • Survey is concise and well-structured
  • It is important to focus on top priorities and understand key outcomes while also being realistic in regards to length of survey, type of question, and respondent ability to report on certain items
  • Questions are easy to answer. Instruments that are difficult to complete can lead to errors from the interviewer as well as the respondent. Questions need to be consistently administered or communicated to respondents and consistently UNDERSTOOD by respondents and researchers
  • Respondent sensitivities are recognized. Sensitive questions, such financial questions or those about socially unacceptable behaviours, most often lead to inaccurate reporting and poor data because respondent over/under report or give the more socially acceptable answer. Respondents should be willing to provide correct and valid answers
  • Respondents are allowed to not know. Where respondents are forced to answer questions they do not feel they know the answer to, they are likely to become frustrated and close the survey early. Respondents should have access to information needed to answer each question, unless the purpose is to determine whether or not they have the knowledge

Ipsos has considerable experience in designing questionnaires and will use our expertise to questions that are clear, unambiguous and straight-forward for respondents to complete and for interviewers to administer. This skill is crucial to ensuring high quality, error-free and coherent data collection.

Ipsos is at the forefront of the latest developments and thinking in questionnaire design in social polling, and have actively contributed to this body of work through the publication of papers.

To summarise - good questions:

  1. Are simple, direct, clear to all, and avoid jargon
  2. Don't presume information
  3. Are balanced
  4. Ask about only one thing
  5. Don't tax respondent's memory or cognitive ability.

Best reading

  • Sturgis, P., Roberts, C., and Smith, P. (2012) Middle Alternatives Revisited: How the Neither/Nor Response Acts as a Way of Saying "I Don't Know" Sociological Methods & Research
  • Smith, P. (2011) Lessons from academia. International Journal of Market Research, Vol. 53, Issue 4.
  • Allum, N., Sturgis, P. and Smith, P. (2010) Evaluation of Guessing in Political Knowledge Quizzes. May 2010, American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) 65th Annual Conference, Chicago.
  • Sturgis, P., Smith, P., Duffy, R. and Roberts, C. (2010) Happy! Or can't get no satisfaction?: Concept equivalence in the measurement of subjective well-being. May 2010, American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) 65th Annual Conference, Chicago.
  • Smith, P., Pickering, K., Williams, J. and Hay, R. (2010) The Efficacy of Focused Enumeration. April 2010, Seminar on special issues in sampling ethnic minorities and migrants, Royal Statistical Society, London.
  • Sturgis, P. and Smith, P. (2010) Assessing the Validity of Generalized Trust Questions: What kind of trust are we measuring? International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Vol. 22, Issue 1, pp. 72-92.
  • Smith, P., Sullivan, L., Gyuzalyan, H. and Tracy I. (2010) An investigation of the frequency and correlates of primacy effects in questions using show-cards in face-to-face interviews. Ipsos MORI working paper.
  • Smith, P. and Harvey, P. (2010) Business Crime Scoping Exercise: Methodological work to consider the scope and feasibility of a new survey to measure commercial victimisation.
  • Sturgis, P., Choo, M. and Smith, P. (2009) Response Order, Party Choice, and Evaluations of the National Economy: A Survey Experiment. Survey Research Methods, Vol. 3, Issue 1, pp. 7-12.

  • Smith, P. (2009) Survey research: two types of knowledge. International Journal of Market Research, Vol.51, Issue 6, pp. 719-721.
  • Sturgis, P., Allum, N. and Smith, P. (2008) An Experiment on the Measurement of Political Knowledge in Surveys. Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol 72, Issue 1, pp. 90-102.
  • Sturgis, P. and Smith, P. (2008) Fictitious Issues Revisited: political knowledge, interest, and the generation of nonattitudes. Political Studies, Vol. 58, Issue 1, pp. 66-84.
  • Pickering, K., Smith, P., Bryson, C. and Farmer, C. (2008) British Crime Survey: options for extending the coverage to children and people living in communal establishments. Home Office.

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