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 research instrument.

"Questionnaires can be designed to minimize, but not eliminate, dishonest, and careless reporting."

Constructing a good questionnaires involves a series of steps and procedures, including:

• Deciding on the general features of the questionnaire, such as the length, the format, and the main parts.

• Writing effective items/questions and drawing up an item pool.

• Selecting and sequencing the items.

• Writing appropriate instructions and examples.

• Piloting the questionnaire and conducting item analysis.

This chapter will provide an overview of these issues, offering many practical do's and don'ts to facilitate effective questionnaire construction.

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