As a rule of thumb, there are simple rules that apply to creating all questionnaires. By learning those, you can create a good, sharp and precise survey, which will provide you with clean and easy to analyze data. In case you need a long and detailed guide, we welcome you to read our 10-part manual for the perfect survey. However, if you hope for something quick and helpful, keep reading this article.
First of all, let me ask you a question:
WHAT do you want to find out from WHO?
In that question, WHAT constitutes the desired outcome from your survey, eg. data you need to obtain, while WHO is your target group. If you have your WHAT and WHO’s ready, you can start designing your questionnaire.
The next question would be,
Do you have a good understanding of your investigated topic? Can more or less predict participant’s answers?
If you answered YES to this one, consider applying a structured format to your survey.
In this format, questions are very detailed and leave little room for interpretation. Those might involve checking the answer, filling the blank or option buttons. This way, your answers are easy to evaluate and translate into quantitative data, making them more appropriate for conducting statistical analysis.
However, if you answered NO, you might want to use an unstructured format.
Unstructured surveys are useful when you want to get a broad overview of a certain topic or leverage ideas or knowledge of your participants, for example, about their favourite product or for their suggestions for a new company name.
Questions in unstructured format tend to include simple text fields for participants to write their own, unfiltered answers.
If your answer is SO-SO, rely on the middle ground -- semi-structured format, which applies both structured and unstructured types of questions.
Consider which format will be the best fit for your questionnaire.
If, for example, your survey is about a rather specific topic, avoid the text fields - it is safe to assume that participants won’t be able to give constructive feedback.
Similarly, don’t use them for questions as simple as yes/no to make your life easier during the analysis stage. On the other hand, structured questions are of little use for in-depth interviews or feedback forms. The structured format won’t capture all the nuances that the unstructured format will.
Now that you know which format to choose, think about the types of information you would like to collect.
In general, there are 3 main types of data you can gather from a participant:
- Classification Information involves data about age group, gender, education level, citizenship status etc. They are collected for every survey.
- Behavioural Information constitutes data about the actions (behaviors) and their frequency, eg. “How many times a week do you shop for groceries”.
- Attitudinal Information represents data about one’s opinion, thoughts and attitude, eg. ‘What is your opinion on the education system in the USA?’
Not sure how to start off your questionnaire? Ask for classification information, as this is required for every research. Not only will this help you to spot your target group, but it will also help you to differentiate within the participants and categorize your data.
Subsequently, your questions should then depend on whether you are more focused on one’s behaviour or their opinions, or both.
In addition, be sure to phrase your questions accurately, without any sloppy wording and spelling mistakes. Moreover, structure them in the natural order, so that the survey feels like a logically progressing conversation.
Last but not least, do not cram all your questions on one page, but part them evenly across multiple sections, so that there is not too much scrolling.
Aside from questions, your questionnaire should include the first page with the study’s terms & conditions, participation agreement and a short description of your research. Include the last page as well with your contact information and a short note, thanking your participants.
That’s it! I bet that after reading this article creating a thesis questionnaire seems easier than you thought. If you need a more detailed manual, check out one here. If you need help with finding participants, we have you covered -- read about it here.