In Marketing Research, Questionnaire construction is still much more of an art than a science. Most of what is known about making questionnaires is the result of general experience. Neither a basic theory nor even a fully systematized approach to the problem has been developed. Nevertheless, the extensive experience of many researchers and a limited number of organized experiments have led to a considerable understanding of the problem and to a long list of ‘dos and don’ts” and rules of thumb. These can help a beginning researchers avoid many pitfalls, but they cannot be substituted for creative imagination in designing a questioning procedure. In the following discussion, the generally accepted rules are organized to provide a step-by-step approach to the development of a questionnaire
Questionnaire construction is discussed in nine steps. These steps may vary in importance in individual projects, but each step must receive attention in each case. The nine steps are: (1) decide what information is wanted; (2) decide what type of questionnaire (personal interview, mail telephone) to use; (3) decide on the content of individual questions; (4) decide on the type of question (open, multiple choice, dichotomous) to use; (5) decide on wording of the questions; (6) decide on question sequence; (7) determine form layout and method of questionnaire reproduction; (8) make a preliminary draft and pretest it; and (9) revise and prepare the final questionnaire.
Determine what Information is wanted:
Basically a questionnaire must serve two functions: it must translate research objectives into specific questions the respondent can answer, and it must motivate the respondent to cooperate with the survey and to furnish the information correctly. Therefore before a questionnaire can be formulated a specific statement of the information needed must be made. The complete analysis must be anticipated. For example, it is not enough to know that the objective is to find what type of person forms the market for the product. The specific characteristics that are thought to be important must be stated.
Determine the type of Questionnaire to use:
Questionnaires can be used by personal interview, mail, or telephone. The choice among these alternatives is largely determined by the type of information to be obtained and by the type of respondents from whom it is to be obtained. It is necessary to decide on the types of questionnaire at this point since the questions asked, the way in which they are asked, and the sequence in which they are asked will all be influenced by this decision. The influence of the type of questionnaire on these factors will be brought out in the discussion.
Determine the content of individual questions:
Once the needed information is specified and the method of communication is decided, researchers are ready to begin formulating the questionnaire. A first problem is to decide at to include in individual questions. The following points are in the nature of standards against which to check possible questions; obviously they leave much to the originality of the researchers.
Is the Question necessary?
Although it seems obvious that no question should be included in a questionnaire unless it is necessary, there is a strong tendency to include interesting questions that have no particular value for the study objectives This has become a particularly important point in recent years as the average questionnaires has become longer.
Extra questions add to the expense of the survey and increase the demands made on respondents, thus decreasing the likelihood of their cooperation. It is reported that the addition of one question to a US Census questionnaire adds more than $1 million to the total cost of the census. While the typical marketing research project is small compared to the census this example indicates the problem.
To determine whether a question is necessary, the researcher must turn back to the objective of the study. Is the information definitely called for? Will something actually be done as a result of the information obtained: If the answer to either of these is no, the question should be eliminated. —