How to write good questions

How to write good questionsYour project, and the information you glean, will be very influenced by the quality of the questions you ask.

So let’s spend a little time thinking about how to write good questions that will produce unbiased and clear answers, for both interviews and surveys.



Avoid biased or leading questions

Don’t ask leading questions. For example, don’t you agree there is room in the market for this product?

Far better to ask do you think there is room in the market for this product?

Ask single questions

How to write good questionsAvoid asking two questions in one, as respondents will invariably answer only one part of it.

For example, don’t say; –

Did you like the product and would you buy it?

This could give you incorrect data as the respondent may like the product, but not buy it because it is too expensive for them, or they already have something similar, or any number of other reasons.

Instead ask; –

Q1 Did you like the product

Q2 would you buy it?

Q3 Please give a reason for your answer to Q2

Open and closed questions

When designing interviews or surveys, consider your questions carefully. It is often easier for analysis reasons to use closed questions- that is, questions to which the responses are yes/no.

We have talked about open and closed questions before

Open and closed questions

Closed questions are useful in surveys, and are easier to collate and analyse.

Open questions are better in interviews, when you want the interviewee to talk freely about the subject

So, in the section above about single questions, Q1 and Q2 are closed questions while Q3 is an open question, allowing the respondent to express an opinion.

This is harder to collate, but some open questions in a survey may give you better quality data, if you have the resources to manage it.
Make sure your questions are clear

Avoid industry jargon which may not be understood by your respondents, and acronyms (abbreviations from initials). If the respondents don’t clearly understand what you are asking you will not get quality data.

When analyzing and writing up your data, be sure to differentiate between data collected, observations and interpretations. Usually the point of the research is to come to a conclusion based on the new information you have collected. You need to present your findings so that readers can see how you have come to the conclusion that you present to them

Use charts or graphs to show the quantitative information you have collected -e.g. the number of people who answered yes or no to the closed questions, perhaps on a spreadsheet.

For qualitative data, you may choose to quote some responses directly, or write about the general trends and information you have gathered from responses.

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