Observing these simple quidelines will help ensure that your respondents understand your survey requirements and complete it as accurately and fully as possible.
Don't request unneeded personal information
- If age, income and location aren't essential, skip this type of question. If you need these questions for statistical purposes, place them near the end.
- Make sure that respondents know that their private information will not be shared.
Don't ask leading questions
- Respondents shouldn't feel as though a specific question has a right or best response.
- Review the wording of each question to confirm that you are not hoping or expecting to receive a certain answer.
- The tone should be neutral.
Don't write questions with double negatives
Respondents should not have to read the question twice. Any question or statement with a double negative can lead to confusion. This type of distraction often leads to respondents quitting the survey.
Don't mix topics in a question
Make sure that your respondents know exactly what they are responding about. For example, do NOT ask: "Is it more difficult to teach small class sizes, or do you find multi-level classes more challenging?"
Don't include too many choices
- 5 choices per closed-ended question is acceptable.
- 3 choices may provide you with stronger data than 5 in some cases.
- Make it clear at the outset whether or not respondents can choose more than one option.
Don't expect too much from your respondents
- Don't ask them to recall information from long ago.
- Don't ask them to remember small details or names.
Don't include two choices that look very similar
Respondents may choose the wrong choice accidentally.
Don't include too many neutral opinion choices
- Questions that include neutral choices such as "don't know","undecided" or "no opinion" should be limited.
- A middle option can be useful for factual questions, but is not helpful for research about attitudes and opinions.
Don't leave your respondents hanging
When you have had time to review the results of your survey, take the time to present and share them. This can be in a blog post, an email, a newsletter, an infographic, or a special note on your website. Don't forget to thank the respondents! And the next time someone asks you to respond to a survey, don't turn a blind eye. If you have valuable feedback or ideas to offer the researcher, take the time to respond.
← Survey Do's
See also: Survey Analysis