So let’s start now:
1. Good title
As obvious as it might seem, a good title for your research is like a cover for the book - it may either deter people or attract them. To make sure it’s the latter, avoid scientific vocabulary or single words (too vague). Rather, your title should in a brief way describe the main topic or purpose of the questionnaire.
Your university might have a template to use as your introduction. If not, use the templates that are available on the internet. The perfect introduction includes terms & conditions, a statement of consent, privacy notice and a short description of your research. If you use the PollPool survey toolkit for creating your survey, we provide you with a simple, customizable introduction.
3. Simple language
Don’t scare people off by involving too much scientific vocabulary or over-complicated questions. If there is any hard-to-grasp terminology involved, be sure to either re-write it into simpler words or provide a sufficient explanation for each term. Moreover, at all costs avoid putting scientific words in the title - unless you share your survey among PhD students!
4. Knowledge of your target group
Define your target group before you start formulating your questions. Think about their age, gender, occupation. In that way, you can predict your survey’s reception. Will your participants understand the intent of your questions or is your survey likely to struggle from non-response bias? More importantly, are you able to distinguish between people who meet your target group and the people who stumbled across your questionnaire by accident?
5. Research question
Think once again about your main objective for your study. The survey must be focused on a certain topic and you must decide whether the information you wish to obtain are behavioural (eg. about people’s behaviours and actions, facts) or attitudinal (eg. about people’s attitudes, thoughts and opinions). Based on that knowledge, formulate relevant questions.
6. Relevant and good-formulated questions
Make sure your questions are followed in a logical order and there are no repetitions, which can both spoil your data and annoy your participants. Moreover, remember to be direct and specific. Do not beat around the bush, eg. instead of asking ‘Do you think that cosmetic brands do a good job connecting with customers in marketing?’ ask: ‘On a scale of one-five, how do you rate marketing of the following cosmetic brands?’. In general, avoid questions that can be answered by a simple yes/no. They do not provide much insight into the investigation and might oversimplify the investigated issue.
7. Good choice of question’s type
Use open questions and rating-scale questions to find out about one’s opinions, thoughts or feedback. Accordingly, use multiple choice or matrix questions to find out about one’s behaviour or habit.
Always include the option “I don’t know” within your answers - so unsure participants can skip a question without spoiling your data or dropping out.
8. Demographic questions
Hold on, you are not ready with your questionnaire just yet! Have you remembered to include demographic questions, eg. about age, gender, occupation, education status and country of residence? This type of information is relevant for every survey and will help you further categorize your data and draw relevant conclusions.
9. Short and engaging questionnaire
Do not cram all of the content into one page. The participant will get an idea that your questionnaire is long and overloaded, on the contrary to splitting your survey into multiple short pages. If your survey is long, include visual content which will keep participants on their toes or animate parts of your study.
10. Motivate your participants
Last but not least, be uplifting and excited about your research. Motivate your participants with a voucher shuffle or small monetary compensation. Or if you are broke, kindness and excitement will do a trick!