(Business Research Methods)

Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan


Designing a Questionnaire
 A survey is only as good as the questions it asks  The underlying esearch problem and objectives must be clearly understood by the researchers  Using common sense, good grammar and imagination alone cannot guarantee producing a high quality questionnaire  Good quality and professionally-worded, carefully conceived questionnaires produce good quality information which can aid in decision-making  Good questionnaires require experience and a knowledge of the respondents level of awareness, education and understanding in order to maximize feedback and miminize respondent and other potential sources of error
Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 2

Typical Issues in Questionnaire Design
 What should the respondents be asked?  How should each question be phrased?  In what sequence should the questions be arranged?  What is the best questionnaire layout for the research problem in question?  What communication medium should be utilized (personal interview, telephone interview etc.)  Should the questionnaire be pretested?  How should the questionnaire be pretested?  Does the questionnaire require a revision?
Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 3

Questionnaire Relevancy & Accuracy
 Qustionnaires must fulfill the two fundamental criteria of redundancy and accuracy in order to meet the purposes for which the research is being undertaken  Relevancy means that no unnecessary information is obained from the questionnaire and that all the information that is needed for the purpose of the research is collected, and that no important information is omitted  Accuracy means that the questions are worded in a manner which ensures the collection of correct information from respondents
Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 4

Phrasing Questionnaires (1)
Open-Ended Questions – These require the respondent to answer the question in his or her own words Examples: – Why do you like studying at COMSATS? – Why do you fly with Airlines X, Y or Z? – How do you assess the economic prospects of Pakistan? Open-ended questions allow the respondent to ask or probe the respondent further if he/she feels that clarification of a point, or additional information, is needed. Good for exploratory research. Disadvantage are the difficulties of analyzing the data and in categorizing and summarizing answers because of the unique resonses. Also, there is the possibility of interviewer bias and bias caused by the different education levels of the respondents
Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 5

Phrasing Questionnaires (2)
Fixed-Alternative Questions – These require the respondent to choose, among a limited number of alternative given responses, the one which coincides closely with his or her view or behaviour. Example: • Do you base your examination preparation on Dr. Aurangzeb‘s PPT-slides or do you read the prescribed course literature

Use the PPT-Slides Only

Read the Course Literature

Fixed Alternative questions allow the respondent to ask or probe the respondent further if he/she feels that clarification of a point, or additional information, is needed. Advantages include requiring less interviewer time, less interviewer skill and ease of answer for respondents. Disadvantages are that the researcher may be basing the response structure on assumptions which may be incorrect, and that there may be additional responses which are not indicated. Also, care must be taken to ensure that response categories are mutually exclusive and do not overlap
Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 6

Phrasing Questionnaires (3)
There are several categories of Fixed-Alternative Questions, for example: The Simple Dichotomy (dichotomous alternative) Question – Respondent can choose one out of two alternatives, for example, „yes“ and „no“ The Determinant Choice Question – Respondent must choose one of several possible alternatives (Example: Which is your preferred place to sit in an aircraft: First Class, Business Class, Economy Class) The Frequency Determination Question – Respondent is asked about the frequency of occurence (Example: How often Do you watch Discovery, History or National Geographic Channel each week (Every day, 8-9 times a week, 3-7 times a week, 1-2 times a week, less than once a week, never)
Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 7

Phrasing Questionnaires (4)
The Checklist Question – Respondent can choose multiple answers to a single question. Example: What sources of information would you use to compile your classroom project research paper:
Local bookstores University libraries in Islamabad and surroundings Research Institutes The Digital library at CIIT Islamabad Technical Journals Magazines and Newspapers Interviews with Key Stakeholders

Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan


Phrasing Questionnaires (5)
Some important guidelines for phrasing questionnaires include:  Avoidance of Complexity / Use Simple Language – Respondents may have quite different educational backgrounds (from illiterate or semi-literate to PhD) and conversational levels (from quiet and shy to articulate) which have to be taken into consideration when designing a questionnaire which is intended for general circulation. Technical jargon should only be considered when the group of respondents is homogenous and familiar with the jargon  Avoidance of „Leading“ and „Loaded“ Questions – Both are major sources of bias in the wording of questionnaires. Leading means implying certain answers which respondents are pushed towards (see example on page 336); Loading pushes the respondent towards a socially desirable or politically correct answer or puts a question which is emotionally charged (see example on page 337)
Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 9

Phrasing Questionnaires (6)
 Counterbiasing Statements – Respondents are presented with an introductory statement or preface to a question or section of questions that may help reduce the respondents reluctance to answer the question(s) (see example on page 338)  Avoidance of Ambiguity – Respondents must not be presented with terms and words that are vague or general or which cause confusion and misunderstanding (example: How „frequently“ do you go the the internet cafe? Do you „usually“ pepare for your examinations alone? See other examples on page 339)  Avoidance of Double-Barreled Questions – Questions which adress two or more issues simultaneously (see examples on pages 341-342)
Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 10

Phrasing Questionnaires (7)
 Avoidance of Assumptions – Respondents are presented with assumptions which cause them to give biased responses (see example on page 343)  Avoidance of Burdensome (and Memory Taxing) Questions – Respondents are asked to give answers to questions which they may not be in a position to give due to forgetfulness (note: aided and unaided recall). See example on page 343

Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan


Sequencing Questions in Questionnaires (1)
 The order in which questions are put in a questionnaire may significantly affect the response rate  Asking questionnaires which require resondents to give personal details at the beginning of the questionnaire is generally not recommended  Usually, researchers prefer to ask general questions from respondents before moving on to specific questions (funnel technique)  Often, it is advisable to produce multiple versions of a questionnaire in which fixed-alternative responses are shuffled about

Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan


Sequencing Questions in Questionnaires (2)
 Filter Questions are used to screen out respondents who are not qualified to answer one or more related questions. Example:
Are you a student of COMSATS?


Note: Questionnaires can include hints for interviewers on how to conduct the interview (see page 351)

When were you enrolled? What is your GPA? Which classes are you attending?

Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan


Sequencing Questions in Questionnaires (3)
 The layout of questions can also influence the answers of the respondents. Good, simple and visually appealing layouts are a must for mail surveys, but also can be useful in personal and telephone interviews (see examples on pages 348 – 351)  Factors to consider in questionnaire layout:
Don‘t overcrowd the questionnaires Use margins of adequate size Use white space if needed to seperate sections of the questionnaire Keep questionnaires as brief as possible Use a booklet instead of stapled form Use good quality paper Ensure that the title and subtitles of the questionnaire and questionnaire sections are carefully phrased and captures the respondents attention  Include a privacy and confidentiality mention       
Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 14

Pretesting Questionnaires (1)
 Pretesting is a very useful method for determining whether respondents have any difficulty understanding the questionnaire and wther the questions are ambiguous or can lead possibly to biased answers  Pretesting ensures that costly errors in questionnaires which are given to a large number of respondents is avoided and that damage to the image of the researchers is avoided  The respondents involved in a pretest should be similar in essence to the target respondents of the research  Personal interviewers are often used for pretesting in order to ascertain why questions appear ambiguos or confusing etc. to respondents, and to solicit their comments
Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 15

Pretesting Questionnaires (2)
 Pretesting provide answers to important questions for the business researcher, such as:
    Can the questionnaire format be followed by the interviewers? Does the questionnaire flow naturally and conversationally? Can respondents answer the questions easily? Which alternative forms of questions work best?

NOTE: Cultural factors have to be considered in the design of questionnaires (see example on page 351)

Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan


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