The question today is can you write a well composed question?
NextDoor is a social network that allows people living in the same neighbourhood to share information (e.g., I’m having a garage sale this Saturday, please come!) and ask questions (e.g., Does anyone know what time the restaurant on the corner opens?). It also allows people to ask poll questions (e.g., Do you want to hold a street garage sale?).
For those of us who ask questions for a living, whether that’s questionnaires, discussion boards, CATI interviews, or something similar, NextDoor is an excellent opportunity to witness how questions are written by people who haven’t undergone the same type of training we have. Let’s look at some of the problems people encounter when they try to write polls in NextDoor.
People don’t necessarily know how to phrase questions to fit into the single select question format. In this first example, the question should have been phrased as “Can you offer advice about contractors or neighbours sharing the cost?”
People also don’t know how to create single select questions that can accommodate multiple select answer options. In this case, within the limited confines of the tool, the answers could have been: Monday at 9:30, Monday at 11:30, Wednesday at 9:30, Wednesday at 11:30.
Poll: I need my fence replaced. Looking for reasonable contractor. Also need advice on the protocol for asking neighbors who share the fence to contribute to the cost.— Best of Nextdoor (@bestofnextdoor) September 3, 2019
And worst of all, people don’t recognize when questions can be misinterpreted. Are we to assume that some people look forward to children being endangered?
Anyone else receive offer from Alabama Power to switch to "FlatBill" ? Your thoughts?— Best of Nextdoor (@bestofnextdoor) September 1, 2019
It takes years of training and experience to be able to identify and avoid phrasing and language that could create ambiguity. Indeed, even well trained researchers make mistakes. That’s why we always recommend pre-testing questionnaires with colleagues and clients prior to running a soft-launch.
Now that you’ve seen how easy it is to make mistakes, let us know whether you agree or disagree that questions on market research questionnaires are easy to write. If you’ve got a Twitter account, you can answer all three polls and then come back later to see whether the slightly different wordings create different answers!please get in touch with us. We’d love to help you avoid ambiguity and confusion among your research participants.
You might like to read these:
- What if everything you’re doing to design a marketing research study is wrong?
- Conducting research is easy… if you understand hundreds of cognitive biases!
- 9 Essential Checks for a Questionnaire Pilot Test
- Chunking: What shall we do with a questionnaire that’s too long?
- How to ask gender, age, employment, and income questions on self-completion surveys
- Top 5 tips for writing a questionnaire people will want to answer
- 10 Tips for Pretesting Research Questionnaires and Generating High Quality Market Data
With nearly 40 years of experience, Canadian Viewpoint is a field and data collection company that specializes in English and French offline and online services. We offer sample, programming>, hosting, mall intercepts, pre-recruits, central location recruitment, mystery shopping, site interviews, IHUTs, sensory testing, discussion boards, CATI, facial coding, and other innovative technologies. Learn more about our services on our website. Canadian Viewpoint is a founding board member of CRIC (Canadian Research Insights Council) and named on both the 2019 GRIT Top 50 list of Emerging Players and Women in Research shortlist for Best Places to Work.
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