Social Research Glossary
Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-17, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International, http://www.qualityresearchinternational.com/socialresearch/
This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 2 January, 2017 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2017.
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They are usually directed at individuals although they may collect information and opinions from small groups (such as a family unit).
Questionnaires are usually printed on paper. They may also be accessed on a visual diplay unit, or other information technology medium. The term questionnaire is usually reserved for sets of questions that are designed to be self-completed by the respondent. Structured sets of questions that are asked by an interviewer are usually referred to as interview schedules.
However, some uses of the term questionnaire include interview schedules. The two are thus sometimes differentiated by terms such as self-completion questionnaire and interviewer-administered questionnaire.
Most questionnaire design attempts a logical flow to the subject of enquiry which makes sense to the respondent. Some questionnaires (particularly those used in psychological tests) deliberately randomise or scramble up the question order.
Wording: ambivalence, leading sequences etc.
Type of questions
Close questions are those where the respondent's answer are restricted to a list of alternatives, each of which has usually been assigned a code in advance. Close questions are sometimes called structured questions.
Closed questions are used when scaling is involved.
Open questions allow the respondent to write, in their own words, the answer to the question in the space provided on the questionnaire form.
Types of questionnaire
Self completion questionnaire
A questionnaire completed in the presence of an interviewer. The interviewer may also verbally ask some or all of the questions.
A questionnaire which is completed by the interviewer as a result of asking questions (and thus involves no self-completion) is more usually referred to as an interview schedule.
Kirklees Council (undated) Corporate Research & Consultation Team introduce questionnaires as follows:
A questionnaire is simply a ‘tool’ for collecting and recording information about a particular issue of interest. It is mainly made up of a list of questions, but should also include clear instructions and space for answers or administrative details. Questionnaires should always have a definite purpose that is related to the objectives of the research, and it needs to be clear from the outset how the findings will be used. Respondents also need to be made aware of the purpose of the research wherever possible, and should be told how and when they will receive feedback on the findings.
Structured questionnaires are usually associated with quantitative research, i.e. research that is concerned with numbers (how many? how often? how satisfied?). Within this context, questionnaires can be used in a variety of survey situations, for example postal, electronic, face-to-face and telephone. Postal and electronic questionnaires are known as self- completion questionnaires, i.e. respondents complete them by themselves in their own time. Face-to-face (F2F) and telephone questionnaires are used by interviewers to ask a standard set of questions and record the responses that people give them. Questionnaires that are used by interviewers in this way are sometimes known as interview schedules.
University of Surrey (undated) lists the following advantages and disadvantages of using questionnaires:
The advantages of questionnaires:
Kirklees Council, undated, Corporate Research & Consultation Team, Research & Consultation Guidelines: Questionnaires, available at http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/community/yoursay/Questionnaires.pdf, available 8 April 2013, still available 25 December 2016.
University of Surrey, undated, Module 9 : Introduction to Research 9. The advantages and disadvantages of questionnaires , available at http://libweb.surrey.ac.uk/library/skills/Introduction%20to%20Research%20and%20Managing%20Information%20Leicester/page_51.htm, available 8 April 2013, still available 25 December 2016.
copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2017
copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2017