Definition of a Questionnaire

A questionnaire is defined as a research instrument consisting of a series of questions that aims to collect valuable data from a respondent. This can be both qualitative as well as quantitative in nature, depending on the researcher’s primary objective. Think of it as an interview that can be carried out face-to-face, over the phone, or by a computer. This is a quick and efficient way to obtain large amounts of data from a large sample of subjects at a time. Questionnaires can also be effective for organizations that want to gain a deeper insight into their consumer market for an external study. Given the population of their main subjects, questionnaires are deemed to be a more practical choice compared to one-on-one interviews.

Questionnaire Samples

Questionnaires can be valuable to any purpose you intend to use them for. You can use them to your advantage by creating a questionnaire that is easy to read and comprehend for respondents to supply you with a sufficient amount of information for your research. Looking for existing documents and samples can also be very helpful for you to construct your questionnaires with ease. Feel free to check out the references below for your convenience.

Differences between a Questionnaire and a Survey

Questionnaires and surveys are often defined interchangeably. However, there are a few distinctive characteristics of each item that differentiates one from the other. For instance, if surveys are known as the research method of gathering data from a pre-defined group of respondents, then questionnaires are the instruments used to conduct the said research. Researchers often carry out surveys using a set of questionnaires to obtain vital information and insights on various topics of interest.

Another factor that distinguishes a questionnaire from a survey is how they are a fast and cost-effective means of data collection. That’s because those who conduct surveys often use questionnaires along with other tools to gain a more accurate set of data for their study, which, in turn, can be much slower and expensive to administer. Other than research purposes, questionnaires may also be used for examinations to measure a respondent’s knowledge on a particular topic.

Types of Questions in a Questionnaire

A questionnaire is likely to consist of multiple question types to uncover different aspects of a topic. Each of these types has its own share of pros and cons that researchers need to weigh before incorporating it into a questionnaire. This usually depends on the kind of information needed in the study, the depth of information required, and the amount of time that respondents are given to answer it. All these factors will greatly influence your choice of questions to ask. Some of the commonly used questions include the following:

Open-Ended Questions: With these types of questions, respondents have the liberty to answer each item in the questionnaire with little to no restrictions. Responding freely to the questions that were asked enables the researcher to collect qualitative data for their study. Here, respondents may input their answers into a comment box that will be reviewed individually through manual reading or a text analysis tool. Although it can be pretty time-consuming for respondents to answer, this allows them to define central issues of a topic while addressing the issue of why. Closed-Ended Questions: Close-ended questions are subdivided into different categories. This includes the rating scale, forced-choice, dichotomous, and demographic/firmographic questions. Unlike the previous type, these questions are ideal for analyzing data based on the specific areas of the topic that were defined. This focuses more on the ability to complete statistical analysis on a topic in which respondents are expected to provide similar answers to the same set of questions.Multiple-Choice Questions: As a kind of close-ended question, multiple-choice questions require respondents to select at least one or more (depending on what is asked) responses from a list of options provided. These options may consist of the right answer, the incorrect answer, and the close alternative or distractor. These questions are much easier for respondents to answer, which is a great choice for surveys or exams that are conducted in a rush. Multiple-choice questions also allow you to compile and analyze results more efficiently compared to other methods.Scaling Questions: There are two common types of scaling questions: the Likert-type scales and the semantic differential scales. Likert-type scale questions are used to ask a respondent whether they agree on a statement or not. Each option is given a score to rank how strongly a person agrees or disagrees with the statement provided. These are more precise than the usual “yes/no” or “true/false” questions, which makes it easier for the researcher to compile and understand the results.Pictorial Questions: These questions are often used to assess the logical capacity of a respondent. Picture classification, picture analogies, and picture series are the three main question types that are a part of this category. This will help assess a person’s ability to better understand the relationships between objects, the similarities and differences of such, and deduce patterns and progressions in the series. This is perfect for visual learners, particularly for respondents of a younger age group.

It’s important to know how questionnaires function, which question type to use, along with when they are most suitable for use. Once you’re familiar with the basics of a questionnaire, you’ll be able to focus on your primary objectives and what you need from respondents in order to gain better, more accurate data for your study.