Drawing up an item pool

It is generally recommended by survey specialists that when we get down to writing the actual items, we should start doing so without restricting ourselves to any number limitations. Let our imagination go free and create as many potential items as we can think of - this collection is referred to as the item pool. At this stage, successful item designers rely heavily on their own verbal creativity, but they also draw on two additional sources:

1. Qualitative, exploratory data gathered from informants, such as notes taken during talks and brainstorming in focus or discussion groups; recorded unstructured/semi-structured interviews', and student essays written around the subject of the enquiry. The best items are often the ones that sound as if they had been said by someone - so why not include phrases and sentences that have indeed been said by real informants?

2. 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.

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