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Selected List Of Published L Questionnaires

Please note that the use of the term 'questionnaires ' in this book does not include 'tests', 'production questionnaires' (e.g., DCTs) or classroom observation schemes (cf. Section 1.1). Cl ment and Baker (2001) contains the complete, multi-dimensional questionnaires used by Cl ment and Kruidenier (1985), Labrie and Cl ment (1986), Cl ment (1986), Cl ment and Noels (1992), .Cl ment, D rnyei and Noels (1994)

Computer Programs For Constructing Questionnaires

Because market research - a booming business area - utilizes questionnaires for various types of surveys, several software companies have developed commercial computer programs to cater to these needs Currently there are over 30 available desktop packages that combine questionnaire design, data collection, and data analysis. However, as Macer (1999) summarizes, few packages rise to the challenge of each stage in the process with the same degree of accomplishment, and development effort often tends to gravitate to some areas at the expense of others. For comprehensive listings and descriptions of the programs on the market, see for example the Research Software Central database (http www.macer.co.uk rscentral rscentral.html) or the database of the Association for Survey Computing (U.K.), which contains a classified listing of 123 software packages related to survey research, with attributes and suppliers questionnaire-based surveys (for a review, see Macer, 1999). It has built-in...

Questionnaires In Quantitative And Qualitative Research

In theory, it would be possible to devise a questionnaire that is entirely made up of truly open-ended items (e.g., Describe your dreams for the future ). Such an instrument would provide data that are qualitative and exploratory in nature, but this practice is usually discouraged by theoreticians. The problem with questionnaires from a qualitative perspective is that - as argued earlier - they inherently involve a somewhat superficial and relatively brief engagement with the topic on the part of the respondent. Therefore, no matter how creatively we formulate the items, they are unlikely to yield the kind of rich and sensitive description of events and participant perspectives that qualitative interpretations are grounded in. In fact, as Sudman and Bradburn (1983) assert, requests for long responses (i.e., more than a sentence as a minimum) often lead to refusals to answer the question or the entire questionnaire, and even if we get longer written answers, many of these will need to...

Questionnaires in Second Language Research

Because the essence of scientific research is trying to find answers to questions in a systematic manner, it is no wonder that the questionnaire has become one of the most popular research instruments applied in the social sciences. Questionnaires are certainly the most often employed data collection devices in statistical work, with the most well-known questionnaire type - the census - being the flagship of every national statistical office. The main strength of questionnaires is the ease of their construction. In an age of computers and sophisticated word processing software it is possible to draw up something that looks respectable in a few hours. After all, as Gillham (2000) reminds us, we all know what questionnaires look like hardly a week goes by without some coming our way. Ironically, the strength of questionnaires is at the same time also their main weakness. People appear to take it for granted that everybody with reasonable intelligence can put together a questionnaire...

Tests are not questionnaires

Written, self-completed (or self-report) questionnaires are very similar to written tests, yet there is a basic difference between them. A 'test' takes a sample of the respondent's behavior knowledge and, on the basis of this sample, inferences are made about the degree of the development of the individual's more general underlying competence abilities skills (e.g., overall L2 proficiency). Thus, a test measures how well someone can do something. In contrast, questionnaires do not have good or bad answers they ask for information about the respondents (or 'informants') in a non-evaluative manner, without gauging their performance against a set of criteria or against the performance of a norm group. Thus, although some commercially available questionnaires are actually called 'tests,' these are not tests in the same sense as achievement or aptitude tests.

What Are Questionnaires And What Do They Measure

Although the term 'questionnaire' is one that most of us are familiar with, it is not a straightforward task to provide a precise definition for it. To start with, the term is partly a misnomer because many questionnaires do not contain any, or many, real questions that end with a question mark. Indeed, questionnaires are often referred to under different names, such as 'inventories,' 'forms,' 'opinnionaires,' 'tests,' 'batteries,' 'checklists,' 'scales,' 'surveys,' 'schedules,' 'studies,' 'profiles,' 'indexes indicators,' or even simply 'sheets' (Aiken, 1997). questionnaires, like the 'consumer surveys' that we often find in our mail box or the short forms we are asked to fill in when, for example, checking out of a hotel to evaluate the services. In this book - in accordance with Brown's (2001) definition below - I will concentrate on the second type only, that is, on the self-completed, written questionnaire that respondents fill in by themselves. More specifically, the focus will...

Production questionnaires DCTs are not questionnaires

The term 'production questionnaire ' is a relatively new name for a popular instrument - traditionally referred to as a DCT or 'discourse completion task' - that has been the most commonly used elicitation technique in the field of interlanguage pragmatics (cf. Bardovi-Harlig, 1999 Johnston, Kasper & Ross, 1998). Although several versions exist, the common feature of production questionnaires is that they require the informant to produce some sort of authentic language data as a response to situational prompts. For example It is clear that these 'questionnaires' are not questionnaires in the same psychometric sense as the instruments discussed in this book. They are written, structured language elicitation instruments and, as

Emphasizing confidentiality

Questionnaires administered in educational settings often contain sensitive items such as the evaluation of the language course (cf. also Sections 2.1.3 and 2.6.3). Students cannot be expected to provide honest information and possibly make critical statements about such issues unless we manage to convince them about the confidentiality of the investigation. Simply saying that the data will be treated confidentially, or making the questionnaires anonymous, may not be a sufficient guarantee for some respondents. In a study that involved the appraisal of a range of situation-specific factors and motives (Cl ment et al., 1994), we made a big 'fuss' about handing out envelopes to the participants and asking them to put the completed forms in these and then seal them. The administrator, who was external to the school, then stamped every single envelope in front of the students with a university stamp before collecting them. This insured confidentiality.

Main types of questionnaire data

Although questionnaires show a great variety, they elicit only four main types of data nominal (categorical), ordinal, interval, and textual. As will be discussed in Section 4.4, the last type - open-ended and sometimes extensive verbal response - is usually converted to quantifiable categories, that is, to one of the first three data types. The main difference between the three types of quantitative data lies in the precision of the measurement

Shortanswer questions

The term 'short-answer questions' is sometimes used to distinguish these questions from 'essay questions' (which are not recommended in ordinaiy questionnaires and therefore will not be discussed). Short-answer questions involve a real exploratory enquiry about an issue

Drawing up an item pool

Borrowing questions from established questionnaires. Questions that have been used frequently before must have been through extensive piloting and therefore the chances are that most of the bugs will have been ironed out of them (Sudman & Bradburn, 1983, p. 120). Of course, you will need to acknowledge the sources precisely.

Social desirability or prestige bias

The final big problem with regard to questionnaires is that people do not always provide true answers about themselves that is, the results represent what the respondents report to feel or believe, rather than what they actually feel or believe. There are several possible reasons for this, and the most salient one is what is usually termed the social desirability or prestige bias. Questionnaire items are often 'transparent,' that is, respondents can have a fairly good guess about what the desirable acceptable expected answer is, and some of them will provide this response even if it is not true. The most extreme example of a 'transparent' question I have come across was in the official U.S. visa application form (OF 156)

Piloting The Questionnaire And Conducting Item Analysis

Because in questionnaires so much depends on the actual wording of the items (even minor differences can change the response pattern) an integral part of questionnaire construction is 'field testing,' that is, piloting the questionnaire at various stages of its development on a sample of people who are similar to the target sample the instrument has been designed for. These trial runs allow the researcher to collect feedback about how the instrument works and whether it performs the job it has been designed for. Based on this information, we can make alterations and fine-tune the final version of the questionnaire.

The behavior of the survey administrator

After all the preliminary considerations, we have finally arrived at the actual day of the survey. The survey administrator is facing the participants (obviously, this section does not apply to postal surveys) and is ready to launch into his her pep talk. However, in line with the saying, 'Actions speak louder than words,' we need to be aware that our behavior is also conveying important messages to the respondents. The administrators of the questionnaire are, in many ways, identified with the whole survey and, therefore, everything about them matters

Constructing the Questionnaire

Section 1.2.2 contained a long list of potential problems with self-completed questionnaires. My goal was not to dissuade people from using such instruments but rather to raise awareness of these possible shortcomings. It is true that respondents are often unmotivated, slapdash, hasty, and insincere, yet it is also an established fact that careful and creative questionnaire construction can result in an instrument that motivates people to give relatively truthful and thoughtful answers, which can then be processed in a scientifically sound manner. The relevant professional literature contains a significant body of accumulated experience and research evidence as to how we can achieve this. Some of the points highlighted by researchers are seemingly trivial in the sense that they concern small details, but I have come to believe that it is to a great extent the systematic handling of such small details and nuances that will eventually turn an ad hoc set of questions into an effective...

Onetoone administration

One-to-one administration refers to a situation when someone delivers the questionnaire by hand to the designated person and arranges the completed form to be picked up later (e.g., handing out questionnaires to colleagues at work). This is a much more personal form of administration than mail surveys and therefore the chances for the questionnaires to be returned are significantly better. The personal contact also allows the questionnaire administrator to create rapport with the respondent, to explain the purpose of the enquiry, and to encourage cooperation. Furthermore, with young children (i.e., less than ten years old) the administrator can be present while they complete the questionnaire to be available if help is needed. Oppenheim (1992) draws attention to a potential pitfall of one-to-one administration When such a questionnaire administration strategy is adopted, researchers often utilize the help of someone in an official capacity on site who is not a skilled interviewer...

Conclusion and Checklist

The previous four chapters have provided a summary of questionnaire theory. Hopefully, they have also made a strong case for basing questionnaire design and processing on scientific principles rather than merely on the researcher's common sense. As emphasized in the Introduction, this book has been intended to serve practical purposes and therefore in this concluding section I will draw up a checklist of what I consider the most important points and recommendations for every phase of the questionnaire survey. Good luck with your future questionnaires 21. With one-to-one administration, make sure that you brief the questionnaire administrator well and consider giving him her a cue card with the main points to cover when handing out the questionnaires. 24. As soon as you have received the completed questionnaires, mark each with a unique identification code.

Complementing Questionnaire Data With Other Information

Having discussed how to construct and administer questionnaires, and then how to analyze and report the responses we have obtained, the final section of this book addresses ways of proceeding toward a fuller understanding of the content area targeted by our survey. As discussed in Chapter 1, although questionnaires offer a versatile and highly effective means of data collection, the kinds of insight they can generate are limited by several factors, most notably by the restricted time and effort respondents are usually willing to invest in completing the instrument. In a more general sense, questionnaires are also limited by the shortcomings of quantitative research as a methodological approach, in that they offer little scope for explorative, in-depth analyses of complex relationships or for doing justice to the subjective variety of an individual life. The good news about questionnaires, however, is that their flexible nature makes them ideal to be used in complex research paradigms...

On length and crowdedness

Perhaps the most common mistake of the beginner in questionnaire construction is to crowd questions together in the hope of making the questionnaire look short. While length is important, the respondent's perception of the difficulty of the task is even more important on self-administered questionnaires. A less crowded questionnaire with substantial white space looks easier and generally results in higher cooperation and fewer errors. Paper quality. Even the quality and color of the paper might make a difference. Newell (1993) describes a colleague who has always produced documents on thick, beige paper because she believes that (1) it stands out from the mass of other paper which might be received, (2) it is pleasant to handle, and (3) people will not have the heart to throw away such an attractive document. She says it works (p. 109). Other researchers suggest that it may be useful to separate the various parts of the questionnaires with a certain color-code of the paper used as it...

Simplicity and superficiality of answers

Because respondents are left to their own devices when filling in self-completed questionnaires, the questions need to be sufficiently simple and straightforward to be understood by everybody. Thus, this method is unsuitable for probing deeply into an issue (Moser & Kalton, 1971) and it results in rather superficial data. The necessary simplicity of the questions is further augmented by the fact that the amount of time respondents are usually willing to spend working on a questionnaire is rather short, which again limits the depth of the investigation.

Processing Questionnaire Data

Having designed a questionnaire and administered it to an appropriate sample is half the battle. Now comes the final phase of our research, the processing of the data. The starting point of this phase is the very salient presence of stacks of completed questionnaires taking up what little empty space there is in our office. Accordingly, our initial priority is to get rid of these stacks and transform the information that is hidden in these piles of questionnaires into a more useful form that we can easily store, access, sort, and analyze (Brown, 2001).

Using multiitem scales

So what is the solution Do we have to conclude that questionnaires simply cannot achieve the kind of accuracy that is needed for scientific measurement purposes We would have to if measurement theoreticians - and particularly Rensis Likert in the 1930s - had not discovered an ingenious way of getting around the problem by using multi-item scales. These scales refer to a cluster of several differently worded items that focus on the same target (e.g., five items targeting attitudes toward language labs). The item scores for the similar questions are summed, resulting in a total scale score (which is why these scales are sometimes referred to as summative scales), and the underlying assumption is that any idiosyncratic interpretation of an item

Main Types Of Questionnaire Administration

In social research the most common form of administering questionnaires is by mail. Educational research is different in this respect because administration by hand is just as significant (if not more) as postal surveys. Within non-postal surveys, we can distinguish two distinct subtypes, one-to-one administration and group administration. Because the administration method has a significant bearing on the format and to some extent also on the content of the questionnaire, we

Content Analysis Of Openended Questions

Although it was argued in Sections 1.3 and 2.5 that wide-open, essaylike questions do not work well in questionnaires and therefore should be avoided, questions that are slightly 'less open' can have some merits and are well worth experimenting with as long as this does not exist at the expense of the closed questions (in terms of response time or willingness). Because open-ended questions do not have precoded response options, their processing is less straightforward than that of closed items.

Strategies for getting around anonymity

We saw in Section 2.1.3 that - from the researcher's point of view -respondent anonymity is often undesirable in survey research because without proper identification we cannot match survey data with other sources of information obtained about the same participants (e.g., course marks or other questionnaires). The other side of the coin, however, is that with certain sensitive questions anonymity may be desirable from the respondents' point of view because they may feel

Unreliable and unmotivated respondents

Most people are not very thorough in a research sense, and this is all the more true about dealing with questionnaires - an activity which typically they do not enjoy or benefit from in any way. Thus, the re- suits may vary greatly from one individual to another, depending on the time and care they choose or are able to give (Hopkins, Stanley, & Hopkins, 1990). Respondents are also prone to leave out some questions, either by mistake or because they did not like them, and Low (1999) presents empirical evidence that respondents also often simply misread or misinterpret questions (which of course renders the answers false). If returning the questionnaires to the survey administrator is left to the respondents (for example in a mail survey), they very often fail to do so, even when they have completed it. In such 'distant' modes, the majority of the respondents may not even bother to have a go at the questionnaire. After all, don't we all think, from time to time, that the questionnaires...

Guidelines for increasing mail survey return rates

How can we increase the willingness of the recipients to take the time and trouble to complete and return the postal survey The strategies most frequently mentioned in the measurement literature are as follows (see also Section 3.3, which offers general - i.e., not restricted to postal surveys in particular - strategies to promote respondent attitudes) Careful timing of the mailing. First, it is advisable to avoid mailings at holiday periods or particularly busy times of the year. Second, questionnaires that arrive in the second half of the week are more likely to be dealt with over the weekend. With postal surveys, making the layout of the questionnaire (cf. Section 2.1.2) attractive is more important than with hand-delivered questionnaires.

Strategies To Increase The Quality And Quantity Of Participant Response

The main message of this section can be summarized in three words Administration procedures matter It was emphasized more than once in the previous two chapters that the 'Achilles heel' of questionnaires as measuring instruments is that it is difficult to get respondents to spend enough time and effort completing them. Educational researchers are in a slightly better position in this respect because school children are often willing to work hard on a task simply because it is assigned to them, but the older the students get the less this is so. Adults - and young adults - are usually perfectly aware of the fact that they have nothing to gain from participating in the survey and may also see the questionnaire as an intrusion both literally and metaphorically. Haven't we all thought at one time or another that a questionnaire we have received was nothing but a nuisance As Gillham (2000, p. 10) rightly notes, the market is questionnaire saturated, and even if someone completes and...

Administration by mail

The unique characteristic of postal administration is that the researcher has no contact with the respondent except for a cover letter he she has written to accompany the questionnaire. In addition, mailed questionnaires are often in competition for the addressee's attention with various sorts of circulars, catalogues, and junk mail also received through mail, and the two factors together largely explain why the return rate of such surveys is often well below 30 . Such a low return rate, of course, undermines the reliability of the sample (cf. Section 3.1.3) and therefore if we decide to conduct a survey by mail we need to adopt a number of special strategies that have been found to increase the respondents' willingness to complete and return the questionnaire.

Obtaining parental consent for children

The need for parental consent for including children in a survey is a gray area in many countries. It is my view that unless there exist legal requirements stating otherwise, it may not always be necessary to ask for parental consent when surveying school children. In the case of 'neutral' questionnaires that do not contain any personally sensitive information, permission to conduct the survey can be granted by the children's teachers. Teachers are usually aware of the significance of legal matters and therefore if they have any doubts about who should authorize the project, they will seek advice.

Identification through the seating plan

There may be situations when even though you do not promise anonymity, you do not want to include the rather salient and potentially loaded task of the respondents identifying themselves by name in the questionnaire. In certain group administration contexts this can be avoided by putting a precoded identification number on each questionnaire and then recording the respondents' exact seating plan during the questionnaire administration (with the help of the students' class teacher, for example). If we hand out the precoded questionnaires in a specific order, we will be able to match the code numbers with the respondents' names through the seating plan. In my experience no one has ever complained about, or even raised the issue of, the identification numbers on the questionnaires, and I make it absolutely certain that the names remain confidential.

Advantages

The main attraction of questionnaires is their unprecedented efficiency in terms of (a) researcher time, (b) researcher effort, and (c) financial resources. By administering a questionnaire to a group of people, one can collect a huge amount of information in less than an hour, and the personal investment required will be a fraction of what would have been needed for, say, interviewing the same number of people. Furthermore, if the questionnaire is well constructed, processing the data can also be fast and relatively straightforward, especially by using some modern computer software. These cost-benefit considerations are very important, particularly for all those who are doing research in addition to having a full-time job (Gillham, 2000). Cost-effectiveness is not the only advantage of questionnaires. They are also very versatile, which means that they can be used successfully with a variety of people in a variety of situations targeting a variety of topics. As a result, the vast...

The codebook

Once the coding of the questionnaire items has been completed and a computer data file has been created (cf. Section 4.2), the questionnaires are usually put into storage and not looked at again (except for special occasions when something needs to be double-checked). Given the general shortage of storage facilities, it is inevitable that sooner or later the questionnaire piles find their way into the trashcan, which will leave the computer file as the only record of the survey data. In order to make these records meaningful for people who have not been involved in creating it, it is worth compiling a codebook. This is intended to provide a comprehensive and comprehensible description of the dataset that is accessible to anyone who would like to use it. It usually contains

Rating scales

Ratings scales are undoubtedly the most popular items in research questionnaires. They require the respondent to make an evaluative judgement of the target by marking one of a series of categories organized into a scale. (Note that the term 'scale' has, unfortunately, two meanings in measurement theory one referring to a cluster of items measuring the same thing - cf. Section 2.3.2 on 'multi-item scales' - and the other, discussed in this section, referring to a measurement procedure utilizing an ordered series of response categories.) The various points on the continuum of the scale indicate different degrees of a certain category this can be of a diverse nature, ranging from various attributes (e.g., frequency or quality) to intensity (e.g., very much - not at all) and opinion (e.g., strongly agree - strongly disagree). The points on the scale are subsequently assigned successive numbers, which makes their computer coding a simple task.

Length

This must be resisted in questionnaire design less is often more because long questionnaires can become counterproductive. How long is the optimal length It depends on how important the topic of the questionnaire is for the respondent. If we feel very strongly about something, we are usually willing to spend several hours answering questions. However, most questionnaires in the L2 field concern topics that have a low salience from the respondents' perspective, and in such cases the optimal length is rather short. Most researchers agree that anything that is more than 4-6 pages long and requires over half an hour to complete may be considered too much of an imposition. As a principle, I have always tried to stay within a 4-page limit It is remarkable how many items can be included within 4 well-designed pages and I have also found that a questionnaire of 3-4 pages does not tend to exceed the 30-minute completion limit.

Multiplechoice items

Language researchers will be very familiar with the multiple-choice item format because of its popularity in standardized L2 proficiency testing. The item type is also frequently used in questionnaires with respondents being asked to mark - depending on the question - one or more options. If none of the items apply, the respondent may have the option to leave the question unanswered, but because this makes it difficult to decide later whether the omission of a mark was a conscious decision or just an accident, it is better to include a Don't know and a Not applicable category (and sometimes even a No response option). Also, it is often desirable to ensure that an exhaustive list of categories is provided, and for this purpose it may be necessary to include an Other category, typically followed by an open-ended question of the Please specify sort (cf. Section 2.5.2).

Acquiescence bias

Another common threat inherent to self-completed questionnaires is acquiescence, which refers to the tendency for people to agree with sentences when they are unsure or ambivalent. Acquiescent people include yeasayers, who are ready to go along with anything that sounds good (Robinson, Shaver, & Wrightsman, 1991, p. 8), and the term also covers those who are reluctant to look at the negative side of any issue and are unwilling to provide strong negative responses.

Layout

Sanchez (1992) points out that the design of the questionnaire layout is frequently overlooked as an important aspect of the development of the instrument. This is a mistake Because in surveys employing self-completed questionnaires the main interface between the researcher and the respondent is the hard copy of the questionnaire the format and graphic layout carry a special significance and have an important impact on the responses. Over the past 15 years I have increasingly come to the belief that producing an attractive and professional design is half the battle in eliciting reliable and valid data (for a discussion of the role of the layout in increasing respondent motivation, see Section 3.3.8).

The coding frame

The coding frame is a classification scheme that offers a numerical score for every possible answer to an item (see Sample 4.2 on page 100). The minimum number of categories is two, as with yes no questions or gender data 'Yes' and 'male' are usually coded '1,' whereas 'No' and 'female' are coded '2.' For some open-ended questions (e.g., What foreign languages have you learned in the past ) the coding frame can have many more categories - in fact, as many as the number of different answers in all the questionnaires. With such items the coding frame is continuously extended, with every new language mentioned by the respondents being assigned a new number.

Rank order items

It is a common human mental activity to rank order people, objects, or even abstract concepts according to some criterion, and rank order items in questionnaires capitalize on our familiarity with this process. As the name suggests, these items contain some sort of a list and respondents are asked to order the items by assigning a number to them

Group administration

In L2 research, group administration is the most common method of having questionnaires completed. One reason for this is that the typical targets of the surveys are language learners studying within institutional contexts, and it is often possible to arrange to administer the instrument to them while they are assembled together, for example, as part of a lesson or slotted between certain other organized activities. The other reason for the popularity of this administration format is that it can overcome some of the problems just mentioned with regard to postal surveys or one-to-one administration. Groups of students are typically 'captive groups' in the sense that a response rate of nearly 100 can be achieved with them, and because a few questionnaire administrators can collect a very large number of questionnaires, it is easier to make sure that all of them are adequately trained for the job. With larger groups, or with groups of less mature kids, more than one field worker at a...

Disadvantages

Although the previous description of the virtues of questionnaires might suggest that they are perfect research instruments, this is not quite so. Questionnaires have some serious limitations, and some of these have led certain researchers to claim that questionnaire data are not reliable or valid. I do not agree with this claim in general, but there is no doubt that it is very easy to produce unreliable and invalid data by means of ill-constructed questionnaires. In fact, as Gillham (2000, p. 1) points out, in research methodology no single method has been so much abused. Let us look at the various problem sources.

Sensitive topics

Your answers to any or all questions will be treated with the strictest confidence. Although we ask for your name on the cover page, we do so only because we must be able to associate your answers to this questionnaire with those of other questionnaires which you will be asked to answer. It is important for you to know, however, that before the questionnaires are examined, your questionnaire will be numbered, the same number will be put on the section containing your name, and then that section will be removed. By following a similar procedure with the other questionnaires we will be able to match the questionnaires through matching numbers and avoid having to associate your name directly with the questionnaire.

Openended Questions

Open-ended questions include items where the actual question is not followed by response options for the respondent to choose from but rather by some blank space (e.g., dotted lines) for the respondent to fill. As we have seen in the previous chapter (in Section 1.3), questionnaires are not particularly suited for truly qualitative, exploratory research. Accordingly, they tend to have few open-ended questions and even the ones included are relatively short, with their 'openness' somehow restricted. Questionnaires are not the right place for essay questions. Because of these considerations, professional questionnaires tend not to include any real open-ended items yet, my recommendation is that it might be worth experimenting with including some. Research

Not indeed

As already mentioned in the Introduction, my interest in questionnaires is pragmatic and practice-driven. I use them all the time and I would like the measures obtained by them to meet high research standards. Having fallen into many of the existing pitfalls several times, I intend for this book to offer concrete suggestions on how to use questionnaires to best effect and how to save ourselves a lot of trouble. Drawing on my own experience and a review of the literature, I will summarize the main principles of constructing and administering questionnaires, and outline the key issues in processing and reporting questionnaire data.

Advance notice

One important factor that influences the respondent's initial disposition is the person's general attitude toward questionnaires. Some people simply cannot stand any kinds of self-completed forms and there isn't much we can do about it. What we can do, however, is to announce the questionnaire a few days in advance and to send each participant a printed leaflet that explains the purpose and nature of the questionnaire, contains a few sample items, and invites participation. This is an effective method of generating a positive climate for the administration and it also reduces the anxiety caused by the unexpected and unknown. Such advance notice also raises the 'professional' feel of the survey, which in turn promotes positive participant attitudes.

Followup letters

After you have posted the questionnaires, an anxious period of waiting begins. Based on his experience, Gillham (2000) provides a rule-of-thumb estimate that the response you have received by the end of 10 days will be about half of what you can expect to get back in the long run. In order to receive the other half, you need to send a follow-up letter (about 2Vi to 3 weeks after the original mailing). This second mailing is well worth the effort as it can increase the response rate by as much as 30 . With regard to the content of this letter, Gillham makes the following suggestions

Further reading

There is no shortage of books on questionnaires many relevant and useful works have been written on the topic in such diverse disciplines as psychology, measurement theory, statistics, sociology, educational studies, and market research. In the L2 field a very recent volume by J. D. Brown (2001) provides a comprehensive account of survey research (which uses questionnaires as one of the main data gathering instruments), offering a detailed account of how to process questionnaire data either statistically or qualitatively. In the field of psychological measurement, two companion volumes by Aiken (1996, 1997) provide up-to-date overviews of questionnaires, inventories, rating scales, and checklists. Of the many books specifically focusing on questionnaire design I would like to highlight three Oppenheim's (1992) summary is the revised version of his classic work from 1966, and Sudman and Bradburn's (1983) monograph is also a seminal volume in the area. Finally, Gillham's (2000) recent...

Numeric items

One item type that is seemingly open-ended but is, in effect, closed-ended can be labeled as a numeric item. These items ask for a specific numeric value, such as the respondent's age in years, or the number of foreign languages spoken by a person. What makes these items similar to closed questions is that we can anticipate the range of the possible answers and the respondent's task is to specify a particular value within the anticipated range. We could, in fact, list, for example for the 'age' item, all the possible numbers (e.g., between 5 and 100) for the respondent to choose from (in a multiple-choice fashion) but this would not be space-economical. However, computerized, on-line questionnaires often do provide these options in a pull-down menu for the respondent to click on the selected answer.

After School Program Project Description page

The first few applied learning topics were determined by results of the planning focus groups. It is the responsibility of site directors and their assistants to canvas participants for additional topics for applied learning activities. After a topic is identified, it must be determined to be acceptable under the district's guidelines on extracurricular activities and it must be approved by the school principal and the program director.

Doctoral Students Experiences Expectations of Doctoral Studies

Open-ended questionnaires were mailed to graduates of doctoral programs, requesting their typewritten, anonymous responses as well as their distribution of the questionnaire to others holding the doctoral degree, those pursuing the doctoral degree, and known ABDs. Included with the instructions for responding to this questionnaire was an invitation to participate in informal roundtable discussions or conversations. In addition, faculty members at a wide array of institutions distributed questionnaires in their doctoral courses and to colleagues, enlarging the data pool. The researcher received written responses to the open-ended questionnaires and responses of individuals interested in participating in the roundtable discussions. Three small roundtable discussions, each of approximately three hours' duration, and ten one-hour interviews provided additional data for this inquiry. The data include written responses to the open-ended questionnaire and transcribed tapes from the...

Level Writing and thinking

The research on how writers actually think about their texts as they produce them is typified by observational and retrospective accounts. In observational studies, it is usual to use 'protocol analysis' as a technique, where writers are asked to comment on what they are doing and thinking about as they are writing (e.g. see Cotton and Gresty, 2006). Retrospective accounts are given in response to questions after the writing session is over. Sometimes, writing sessions are videotaped to aid subsequent analysis. Interviews and questionnaires are also commonly used in retrospective studies to ask writers about their writing procedures. Table 1.1.4 shows the level of detail described in some of these studies.

After School Program Problem Statement page

Results from our community focus groups show that the vast majority of parents (for all practical purposes, all parents), regardless of income or education want their children to do well in school. The problem is one of not knowing how to help. The desire is there. The parent focus groups identified four main barriers. (1) Meetings are at school, a place with bad connotations for many. (2) Teachers talk down to us and don't listen. (3) Meetings are scheduled at the school's convenience. The work schedules of many people are such that they need flexibility. (4) A substantial minority of caretakers lack transportation to get to and from meetings.

After School Program Evaluation Plan

It will be the responsibility of the evaluator to answer the questions in the numbered list below. The program director will ensure that all program personnel cooperate fully in the collection of evaluation data. The evaluator is responsible for the development of interview guides, questionnaires, data capture sheets, check lists for observations, and other evaluation tools and forms.

Getting an agent

Blake Friedmann receives approximately 400 unsolicited manuscripts per month but, on average, takes on only three to six new authors a year. Like publishers, literary agencies specialise in specific publishing areas and once again, market research is imperative before making an initial

Test test test

Putting your prototype web pages in front of people and getting their reactions is the only way to know how the pictures you picked will be perceived. You can do that in focus groups or in usability testing. Whichever method you use, don't just show the photos by themselves. Show them in the context of the web page they'll be on and the other web content they'll be with. Context matters, as you've seen in the stories I've just told.

Publishing made easy

If your idea is good enough and you are convinced that there is a market niche for it, then your first step should always be to contact a suitable publisher. Market research is essential in order to help you familiarise yourself with the structure and length of similar books. Try to find a series into which your topic will fit, then write a chapter-by-chapter outline along the lines illustrated in Figure 10.

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