The process of writing questions is fun, and well-written questions can quickly engage the interest of the participants. Competition develops among the question writers to see who can come up with the cleverest or most interesting questions. Given our biases toward more information, a game of “Wouldn’t it be nice to know?” can quickly ensue, and soon there are many more questions than the budget can afford or than respondents can endure. Too often ques- tionnaire writers are so caught up in the excitement of question writing that they jump rapidly into writing questions before they have adequately formulated the goals of the research and thor- oughly understood the research questions. Many questionnaires constructed by inexperienced people look as if the researchers did not know what they were trying to ﬁnd out until they saw what they had asked.
To develop a good questionnaire, observe the following rules:
- Resist the impulse to write speciﬁc questions until you have thought through your research questions.
- Write down your research questions and have a hard copy available when you are working on the questionnaire.
- Every time you write a question, ask yourself “Why do I want to know this?” Answer it in terms of the way it will help you to answer your research question. “It would be interesting to know” is not an acceptable answer.
It is always useful before creating new questions to search for ques- tions on the same topic that have been asked by other researchers. This can justify your questions and provide an important point of comparison.