Designing a Questionnaire

While developing  a questionnaire, the researcher has to be very clear on the following issues:

a.What information will be sought?

b.What types of questionnaire will be required?

c.How that questionnaire will be administered?

d.What the content of the individual question will be.

e.What the form of response of each question will be.

f.How many questions will be used and how the individual questions will be sequenced?

g.Whether the questionnaire shall be disguised or undisguised?

h.Whether the questionnaire shall be structured or unstructured?

Structured and Unstructured Questionnaire

A questionnaire can be either structured or unstructured

Structured: A structured questionnaire is one in which the questions to be asked and the response are completely predetermined.

Unstructured: An unstructured questionnaire is one in which the questions to be asked are only loosely predetermined, and the respondent is free to respond in his/her own words and in any way he/she sees fit.

Disguised vs undisguised Questionnaire:

1) Structured non disguised questionnaire

2) Structured disguised questionnaire

3) Non structured non disguised questionnaire

4) Non structured disguised questionnaire

Types of Questions

1. Closed ended questions:

a.In the closed ended type of questions, the respondent is asked to select from a fixed list of replies.

b.Respondent has to choose any one of the options given or multiple options

c.This facilitates coding and helps in quantifying the answer to the questions

2. Open ended questions:

a.Respondents are free to answer the questions in their own words.

b.It does not restrict them to choose from the given alternatives as in closed-ended questions

c.The respondent expresses his/her thoughts in a free wheeling manner

Points To Be Kept In Mind In Designing Questionnaire

1.Covering letter: The person conducting the survey must introduce himself and state the objective of the survey. It is desirable that-

a)A short letter is enclosed.  The letter should state, in as few words as possible, the purpose of the survey and how the informant would tend to benefit from it.

b)Enclose a self-addressed envelope for the respondent’s convenience in returning the questionnaire.

c) Assure the respondent that his answer will be kept in strictest confidence.

d) Promise the respondent that he will not be harassed after he fills up the questionnaire.

e) Offer special inducement (free gifts, concession coupon, etc.) to return the questionnaire.

f) If the respondent is interested, promise him a copy of the result of the survey.

2. The number of question should be as few as possible.

3. Questions should be logically arranged:

a). should be logical order

b). Should not skip back and forth from one topic to   another.

c). Sequence of the questions should be considered   carefully in   terms of the purpose of the study and   the persons who   will supply the information.

d). Questions supplying identification and description of   the   respondent should come first followed by major   information questions.

e). If opinions are requested, such questions should   usually be   placed at the end of the list.

f). Two different questions ma be included on the same   subject to provide a cross-check on important points.

  1. Questions should be short and simple
  2. Questions of a sensitive nature should be avoided.
  3. Instructions to the informants
  4. Footnotes
  5. Questions should be capable of objective answer.

a). Dichotomous question

b). Multiple choice questions, and

c). Open-ended or free answer questions


Where clear cut alternative exists:

  1. Do you have private car?
  • Yes
  • No

If the question is- Which brand of tooth-past do you      use?

Here yes, No is not possible

But Researcher wants to find out a particular answer (whether a particular brand is used)

a)Do you use Colgate toothpaste?

  • Yes
  • No

a)If yes, how often

  • Always
  • Occasionally
  • Seldom
  • Never
  1. Answer to questions should not require calculation.
  2. Pr-testing the questionnaire
  3. Cross-checks
  4. Incentives
  5. Methods of tabulation to be used

research problem