Constructing the Survey

Constructing a survey instrument is an art in itself. There are numerous small decisions that must be made – about content, wording, format, placement – that can have important consequences for your entire study. While there’s no one perfect way to accomplish this job, we do have lots of advice to offer that might increase your chances of developing a better final product.

First of all you’ll learn about the two major types of surveys that exist, the questionnaire and the interview and the different varieties of each. Then you’ll see how to write questions for surveys. There are three areas involved in writing a question:

  • determining the question content, scope and purpose
  • choosing the response format that you use for collecting information from the respondent
  • figuring out how to word the question to get at the issue of interest

Finally, once you have your questions written, there is the issue of how best to place them in your survey.

You’ll see that although there are many aspects of survey construction that are just common sense, if you are not careful you can make critical errors that have dramatic effects on your results.