What is a Questionnaire?
A questionnaire refers to a document that enlists various questions related to a specific subject at hand. It is a method of collecting information in which the investigator drafts a questionnaire, whose answers he/she is looking for, from the respondents.
These are mainly used when the area of study is wide and informants are literate, as well as they understand the importance and utility of data. It can be conducted through a personal interview, mail, or telephone.
- Personal Interview: In a personal interview, the researcher himself/herself approaches people to acquire information. The success of this method relies on the efficiency of the investigator. Further, the information received is accurate and reliable, as the researcher can easily cross-check the respondents, by asking relevant questions from them, to have a clear idea about the answer.
- Mail Questionnaire: In this method, the questionnaire is mailed to the respondents with a request to return the same when it is completed within the given time frame. Many times mail questionnaires are sent to the respondents by enclosing them with a consumer product or any journal.
- Telephone: Certain questions are asked by the researcher using the telephone. This consumes comparatively less time than the other modes, but it is very less utilized, as only those respondents can be questioned who have telephone, or whose numbers are available to the investigator. Hence, this method can be used when the informants are unwilling to answer the questions personally.
The effectiveness of data collection i.e. the quality and quantity of the response data obtained using a questionnaire mainly relies on how skilfully, and thoughtfully questionnaires are drafted. This is because a well thought and objectively framed questions fetch more response
Essentials of an Ideal Questionnaire
The essentials of an ideal questionnaire are discussed hereunder:
A cover letter is a letter attached to the questionnaire which states the purpose of the inquiry. In a covering letter, the person carrying out the survey introduces himself and it indicates the aims and objectives of the survey. This also helps in taking the respondent into confidence and also assured that his/her response will not be shared with any third party.
Also, he/she will not be solicited in the future. A self-addressed and stamped address can be attached to it, to convince the respondent, and to submit it once it is filled.
A necessary set of instructions are provided with the questionnaire, which ensures that informants fill the questionnaire fully, correctly, and neatly.
Questions should be less in number
In a questionnaire, the number of questions to be asked must be less in number, however, they should be enough to draw the required information. Further, the number of questions to be included actually depends on the objective and scope of the research. Therefore, when the objective is defined, the relevant questions can be asked.
Questions should be short, and clear
Simple, short, and understandable questions are preferred. Further, their interpretation must be done in only one sense, so that the answers are not ambiguous. Except when the informant who is interrogated is technically trained, the use of jargon should be avoided.
Questions should be relevant to the investigation
Questions must be purely related to the research. Further, questions of personal nature and sensitive ones need to be avoided. Also, the questions which may hurt the religious or social sentiments of the informant should not be included in it.
Questions should be in a logical sequence
The arrangement of questions must be in such a way to facilitate natural and spontaneous reply, for which logical sequence should have opted so that the informant should not skip back and forth from one question or set of questions to another.
Questions should be properly placed
The placement of questions should be proper so that the informant does not face any difficulty to answer them or leave the questionnaire incomplete.
Questions should be framed in a manner that helps in cross verification, to ensure certainty. It ascertains whether the informant has answered the minimum important questions in the correct manner.
Questions should be framed with alternative answers
The questionnaire should be drafted in such a way that the respondent only needs to tick the best answer for the question in his/her opinion.
Questions should be free from calculations
Questions must not include calculation, as such questions are usually avoided by the respondents.
Objective type or multiple choice questions are generally considered the best for the questionnaire.
Prior to sending the questionnaire to the informants via mail, a pilot survey must be undertaken, i.e. it should be pretested. This will help in the elimination of shortcomings if any. The pretesting of the questionnaire is termed a pilot survey. Any mistakes, inconsistencies, interpretation issues, response fetching ability, etc are checked through it.
Request for Return
The surveyor can make a request to the respondent to kindly return the questionnaire once it is completed in all respects within the stipulated time.
Basically, those questions are not included in a questionnaire that requires strain. Also, questions from the distant past, or which require mathematical calculation may result in wrong answers.