Category Archives: Survey Design

Why Context Matters in Survey Research

Survey questions with context ambiguities are usually a sign that the researcher either doesn’t understand the context the respondent might draw upon when answering the question or the context within which the company might use the data.  One way to address both kinds of context ambiguity is through cognitive interviewing: having test respondents thinkaloud while they answer survey questions. The interviews help ensure respondents are interpreting questions the way researchers intended and also that they are measuring what they intended. Here’s an example that shows why cognitive interviews are usually a good idea. It is from a survey asking about a large multinational bank.

financial

Personally, my life’s dreams can’t be achieved through “prioritizing financial goals”. They in fact, aren’t related to financial goals and that is not the fault of this bank. Continue reading

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Question Writing 101 from Joe Dumas

I created and presented this summary as part of my usability testing class (HCDE 517) at the University of Washington. It covers basic question writing concepts that are applicable to both market researchers and usability researchers.

For me, the highlight of this article was Joe’s discussion on labeling the end points of scales. He reminds even us experienced question writers that: one’s choice of scale end points might activate two different cognitive structures instead of one. Measuring something as being “difficult” is not the same as measuring it as being “not at all easy”.

Sauro’s 4 Steps to Translating a Questionnaire

The process for translating questionnaires is one thing that is exactly the same in Market and Usability Research. Jeff Sauro, a highly regarded usability professional, posted “4 Steps to Translating a Questionnaire” on his blog last month. Continue reading

How Not to Ask About Educational Attainment

Researchers frequently need to ask about educational attainment in surveys. This question is often asked imprecisely.  The example below (adapted from a survey about computer systems) includes one of my all time top pet-peeves: a response option for post-graduate degree in surveys targeted at Americans.  It is not a term commonly used in talking about higher education in the United States.

Educ

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The One Question that Rules Them All

It seems an increasing number of companies have been jumping on the “likelihood to recommend” Net Promoter question bandwagon, but are not willing to go so far as letting it be the one question they need to ask. Meaning the question is usually buried in a much longer survey  Even worse, sloppy surveys seem to modify the original form of the question in ways that break the validity of the Net Promoter model. Below is one such example (click to enlarge):

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