Dichotomous questions – two possible answers (yes/no, male/female etc)
Questions based on levels of measurement – ranked by numbers (like voting) or on a scale (eg. of 1-5)
The cumulative or Guttman scale – respondents check items they agree with. Items are placed in an order so if you agree with the lowest one, you agree with all above it.
Filter or contingency question – eg. If ‘yes’ go to question 5, If ‘no’, go to question 8
- Tips on Filter questions from Research Methods Knowledge Base:
- try to avoid having more than three levels (two jumps) for any question
Too many jumps will confuse the respondent and may discourage them from continuing with the survey.
- if only two levels, use graphic to jump (e.g., arrow and box)
The example above shows how you can make effective use of an arrow and box to help direct the respondent to the correct subsequent question.
- if possible, jump to a new page
If you can’t fit the response to a filter on a single page, it’s probably best to be able to say something like “If YES, please turn to page 4″ rather that “If YES, please go to Question 38″ because the respondent will generally have an easier time finding a page than a specific question.
Opening questions – icebreakers, easy to answer
Sensitive questions – build rapport first, have an introduction/warming sentence to link them in
A checklist (thanks again to the Research Methods Knowledge Base:
start with easy, nonthreatening questions
put more difficult, threatening questions near end
never start a mail survey with an open-ended question
for historical demographics, follow chronological order
ask about one topic at a time
when switching topics, use a transition
reduce response set (the tendency of respondent to just keep checking the same response)
for filter or contingency questions, make a flowchart
- Thank the respondent at the beginning for allowing you to conduct your study
- Keep your survey as short as possible — only include what is absolutely necessary
- Be sensitive to the needs of the respondent
- Be alert for any sign that the respondent is uncomfortable
- Thank the respondent at the end for participating
- Assure the respondent that you will send a copy of the final results