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Survey tip 2: Avoid long and complex questions!Long and complex questions run the risk of being incomprehensible and confusing the participant, they can contain terms which are redundant or superfluous and/or Ė perhaps even unintentionally Ė contain too many different stimuli. Although the question of how complex a questionnaire may be depends to a large extent on the target group of the questionnaire, the difference between a long and complex question and a short and simple question is obvious.
Letís consider the following example:
"As you know, some people are quite politically active, while other people often donít have time or arenít interested in taking an active part in political stuff. I will now give you a list of things that people do. Tell me in each case how often you personally do stuff or how often it happens. (Followed by a list with the answer categories often Ė sometimes Ė rarely Ė never.) Firstly, how often do you have a political discussion?"
Apart from the sloppy use of the English language ("political stuff", "a list of things..., that people do"), information is provided which isnít necessary in order to answer the question ("As you know...", "other people..."); furthermore it could also be unclear what is meant by having a "political discussion". Where does this discussion take place? In public or among friends? With the family or in the pub?
Letís try it this way:
"How often do you take part in public political discussions? Often, sometimes, rarely or never?"
It is simpler, clearer, shorter and less complex, although the answer categories could be reconsidered.
|10 survey tips|
Formulation of questions
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Last updated: 22.02.2020