Survey questionnaire: Core strategies for writing a successful questionnaire

If you wonder how to write a quality and effective survey questionnaire, read on the article and find out specifics strategies and tactics of questionnaire writing.

Strategies and tactics of questionnaire writing

  • Prioritize asking close-ended questions first. First, respondents should get accustomed to the questionnaire, so close-ended questions will be clearer and more understandable to them. They will know what answers they are expected to provide. Open-ended questions, on the contrary, require one to provide free answers that may sometimes be extended and that can take more time and effort to write.
  • Try not to include more than two open-ended questions in your survey. If possible, provide them separately from the rest of the tests and place them at the end of the questionnaire. A thing is: even if respondents fail to reply to the open-ended questions due to the lack of time or competence, you will still be able to gather the other results.

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  • Maintain the neutral tone of survey organization. Try not to use leading or prompt questions as it will keep the respondents from answering the way they feel (when they have an example provided).
  • Provide a balanced and consistent range of answers to the close-ended questions. It will make sure that the respondents provide honest feedbacks. In other case, the credibility and plausibility of the answers may be at risk.
  • Make the survey questionnaire as objective and unbiased as possible. Do not provide options that are too evaluative in nature. Ask for one thing at once. Do not ask about two or more different things in one question. This approach for composing questionnaire questions is really bad as you confuse your respondents. They will literally not know what to choose and what they are asked about.
  • Avoid double-barreled questions when your respondents need to consider two completely different things. An example of such question is when you ask your respondents to evaluate the customer support service and quality of the product. You should understand that a customer support service and the product quality are entirely different things. Moreover, they should be evaluated separately. To avoid this mistake when composing your survey questionnaire, you should break up these topics into two separate close-ended questions, where the first one will ask how would one evaluate the company’s customer support service and the second will ask about the quality or reliability of the product/ service.
  • Make sure you write in good grammar. The questions should be grammatically correct, concise, and simple. Moreover, the overall style of your survey questionnaire should be consistent. As such, try to adhere to the principles of parallelism when composing questions. Try to avoid complex or long questions as they will distract respondents’ attention from the very essence of the question but focus attention on understanding grammar and vocabulary.
  • Avoid subjective evaluation or bias in the formulation of survey questions. When the question contains bias in it, it means that the respondent’s answer will be already affected by the claim or idea put forward in the very question. Therefore, avoid specific adjectives or adverbs that may sound as evaluation-like or that already bear some emotional effect. Therefore, avoid politically-/ religion-/ ethnic-/ ethically charged words as well as some sensitive words that will prevent one from providing honest responses.
  • Make sure the questions differ from each other. Do not repeat the same questions just in other wording. It will not only confuse the respondent but also annoy him/ her. Another negative effect of posing similar questions is that the respondents will lose interest in the questionnaire and will not be attentive when providing answer to the questions. Therefore, the questionnaire results will hardly be credible. Therefore, please consider the questions you ask, how you ask them, how they are formulated, etc.
  • Provide options to the questions. Your respondents will not surely know how to answer the questions, so you should be prepared to it. Therefore, even if you give open-ended questions, make sure you some prompts, which do not prevent from providing an objective answer, though. Pay attention to questions that some respondents may not be comfortable when answering them. It means that, before composing a questionnaire and distributing it among the respondents, make sure you study the specifics, characteristics, and other features of your target audience. It will help you avoid questions that may be strange or even offensive to a specific target audience.
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Revise, proofread, and edit

One of the fundamental questionnaire writing tips is to revise, proofread, and edit the questionnaire and do a “test drive” for it. There is nothing worse than finding mistakes in content and the text itself when you already look through the respondents’ answers. Therefore, before distributing the survey to your target group of respondents, make sure you show it to your friends and colleagues. They will definitely help you spot some mistakes or typos (if there are any).

A survey questionnaire for students is a challenging task for many as it requires knowledge both in the research field, subject area, and scope of knowledge pertaining to the very topic of the questionnaire as well as in-depth knowledge in the principles, rules, and standards of questionnaire writing. Designing a good survey does not merely mean that you should provide technically good questions or questions that are grammatically correct. It also means that the questions should be composed in a way that will make the respondents answer them honestly. Besides, the overall process of taking a questionnaire should be easy for respondents. If you want to succeed in the survey questionnaire writing, use the abovementioned tips and you will definitely succeed.

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