Questionnaire: What is it?
It can be defined as a method that includes Questions or Sentences in such form (optical e.g. pictures? audio e.g. cassettes?) that can collect some type of information from people / participants.
The structure of a Questionnaire can differ based on the aim that was intended to be used as well based on the sample or population that will address e.g. Language use may differ if it is intended to be given to children than to adults as well to participants with linguistic difficulties than to participants without linguistic difficulties.
Questionnaire: Your aims
The main step is to decide what are your research aims. They must be clear and specific e.g. Gender differences on the anxiety levels.
Questionnaire: Sample / Population
The next step is to decide the target population or sample that will address your research aims. The sample that you will choose must be easily accessed to you e.g. you might cannot reach very rich people with a monthly wage above 500 thousands or people that stay in areas without using some of the modern distant communication methods e.g. phone.
Questionnaire: Constructing a new one or Using a Ready one?
You have defined your aims and your sample as well the questionnaire as the media of data collection. Now, it is the time to decide if you will use a questionnaire that was constructed by someone else and have been used extensively in literature or to construct an entirely new one. To find the most appropriate questionnaire, it must satisfy the following requirements:
i) It must fully cover your research hypothesis
ii) It must be appropriate for the sample that you have chosen e.g. it may contain only pictures if it is intended to be used by people that cannot read.
iii) It will be very positive if the selected questionnaire has been used in a similar context with the context of your research e.g. Some people may interpret “common” words or phrases in a different way than usually e.g. Roma (Gypsies) ?
iv) Statistically, two groups of indices that are referred as “Reliability” and “Validity” can show how well can perform a questionnaire in a given context.
Questionnaire: Type of Data collection
If you have decided to construct a new questionnaire, now, it is the time to decide what type of information / data you must collect from your sample / population: Information about their age? their income status? You may review similar to your aims published literature and thus to decide on what type of information is most useful to collect for your topic.
Questionnaire: Type of Questions
i) Every participant must easily understand what is asked for to do. Bad stated questions can make a participant feel tired.
ii) You must take care that no question asks the same thing twice or that a single question asks multiple things.
iii) What type of questions you will include? Open or Close ended?
iv) If your research aims require the collection of sensitive information from participants, how these data can be asked? In what form? e.g. stage of cancer? Income status? Relationship status? Sensitive information such as Date of Birth, it can be asked using e.g. age ranges: 21-30. 31-40.
The Questionnaire Format is also essential:
i) In what order your questions will be included? Demographic questions will be included in the beginning or in the end of your questionnaire?
ii) Usually, a questionnaire must include the most general section in the beginning and the most specific section in the end.
iii) Questionnaire will be short or lengthy? If it includes many questions, then its time completion can be long and thus the participants can feel tired. If the questionnaire is short, some essential questions can be missed
iii) The type and size of font, the white spaces, and generally, the format of the text and layout of the questionnaire are essential too. The questionnaire must have a such layout that each question can be easily read and comprehend without any difficulty.
iv) A paper-and-pencil form or an electronic form will be given?
Questionnaire: Accessing your sample
You have decided what type of data you must collect. Now, you must decide how you will reach your sample, by what method you will access it:
i) Through personal / individual Interviews?
ii) Through Group Interviews?
iii) Through Focus Group Interviews?
iii) By phone? By Internet?
Briefing and Debriefing
Giving a description of the survey / experiment to the participant/s is usually given into two parts:
—Briefing is given sometimes even before participants being accepted / participate in an experiment / survey.
—Debriefing is given when participant has ended the survey / experiment.
Both may given individually to each participant or collectively to a group of participants.
These instructions must explain clearly:
i) What type of Data will be collected
ii) The time of completion
iii) The aims of this questionnaire
iv) How the collected data will be processed
v) How the Anonymity of the participant will be treated
vi) How the participant can be informed for the final results of the research
vii) How the participant can communicate with the researcher
viii) The rights of the Participant
ix) If deception was used about the real aim of the experiment / survey, why was used and what was then the real aim of this research
Questionnaire: A preview
After the construction of the Questionnaire, the questionnaire must be previewed for errors, omissions, and obscure questions. You may even run a pilot study, that is, you may give your questionnaire to some participants in order to find such faults.