For an academic research project that is based on field work (that is conducting surveys and getting feedback from a group or demography of people) it is imperative to have the right questionnaire developed.

If the researcher is looking to test and quantify hypothesis and the data is to be analysed statistically, a formal standardised questionnaire is designed.
Such questionnaires are generally characterised by:
· prescribed wording and order of questions, to ensure that each respondent receives the same stimuli
· prescribed definitions or explanations for each question, to ensure interviewers handle questions consistently and can answer respondents’ requests for clarification if they occur
· prescribed response format, to enable rapid completion of the questionnaire during the interviewing process.

Designing a Questionnaire
There are no hard-and-fast rules about how to design a questionnaire, but there are a number of points that can be borne in mind:

– A well-designed questionnaire should meet the research objectives. This may seem obvious, but many research surveys omit important aspects due to inadequate preparatory work, and do not adequately probe particular issues due to poor understanding. While a survey is bound to leave some questions unanswered a good questionnaire should aim to minimise the amount of questions left unanswered.

– A good questionnaire will aim to get the best complete and accurate response form the demography of respondents to be surveyed. The questions must be asked in a way to ensure thet respondents fully understand the questions and will be likely to answer them truthfully instead of lying to the interviewer. A good questionnaire is organised and worded to encourage respondents to provide accurate, unbiased and complete information.

– A well-designed questionnaire should make it easy for respondents to give the necessary information and for the interviewer to record the answer, and it should be arranged so that sound analysis and interpretation are possible.

– A good questionnaire keeps the questions as brief as possible to maintain the respondents interest till the end.

Preliminary Steps in Questionnaire Design

There are nine steps involved in the development of a questionnaire:
1. Decide the information required.

2. Define the target respondents.

3. Choose the method(s) of reaching your target respondents (eg personal interviews, group of focus interviews, emailed questionnaires, telephone interview etc).

4. Decide on question content.

5. Develop the question wording.

6. Put questions into a meaningful order and format.

7. Check the length of the questionnaire.

8. Pre-test the questionnaire.

9. Develop the final survey form.

Sources: fao.org, managementstudyguide.com

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