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Step Four: Design Research Instruments
The most common research instrument is the questionnaire. Keep these tips in mind when designing your market research questionnaire.
- Keep it simple.
- Include instructions for answering all questions included on the survey.
- Begin the survey with general questions and move towards more specific questions.
- Keep each question brief.
- If the questionnaire is completed by the respondent and not by an interviewer or survey staff member, remember to design a questionnaire that is graphically pleasing and easy to read.
- Remember to pre-test the questionnaire. Before taking the survey to the printer, ask a few people-such as regular customers, colleagues, friends or employees-to complete the survey. Ask them for feedback on the survey's style, simplicity and their perception of its purpose.
- Mix the form of the questions. Use scales, rankings, open-ended questions and closed-ended questions for different sections of the questionnaire. The "form" or way a question is asked may influence the answer given. Basically, there are two question forms: closed-end questions and open-end questions.
Close-end questions - Respondents choose from possible answers included on the questionnaire. Types of close-end questions include:
- Multiple choice questions which offer respondents the ability to answer "yes" or "no" or choose from a list of several answer choices.
- Scales refer to questions that ask respondents to rank their answers or measure their answer at a particular point on a scale. For example, a respondent may have the choice to rank their feelings towards a particular statement. The scale may range from "Strongly Disagree", "Disagree" and "Indifferent" to "Agree" and "Strongly Agree."
Open-end questions - Respondents answer questions in their own words. Completely unstructured questions allow respondents to answer any way they choose. Types of open-end questions include:
- Word association questions ask respondents to state the first word that comes to mind when a particular word is mentioned.
- Sentence, story or picture completion questions ask respondents to complete partial sentences, stories or pictures in their own words. For example, a question for commuters might read: "My daily commute between home and office is _____ miles and takes me an average of ______ minutes. I use the following mode of transportation: _______."