Chapter 3 Questions: Write and Test the Questions

Below are my suggestions for follow-up reading on a number of topics covered in this chapter.

Question and questionnaire design

My recommended place to start on the survey methodology literature around questions and questionnaire design is Question and Questionnaire Design (Krosnick, J. A. and S. Presser (2009) in Handbook of Survey Research (2nd Edition). J. D. Wright and P. V. Marsden, Elsevier), especially as it’s available as a download: https://web.stanford.edu/dept/communication/faculty/krosnick/docs/2009/2009_handbook_krosnick.pdf 

With over 20 pages of references – at least 200 citations – there’s enough there to keep you happy for weeks, especially if you follow up more recent citations of the citations.  

If you’re a keen reader of the survey methodology literature, you’ll have spotted that the four-level model of questionnaire response (Tourangeau, R., L. J. Rips and K. A. Rasinski (2000). The Psychology of Survey Response. Cambridge, U.K.; New York, Cambridge University Press) uses the terms ‘comprehension, retrieval, judgement and response’, whereas I’ve used ‘understand, find, decide, respond’.  

The original model uses nouns (“comprehension” and so on). I tried using the nouns when teaching survey classes and the people who attended the classes found them quite confusing, so I tried a set of terms that uses verbs and the verbs worked better, particularly for ‘retrieval’.  

If you’re writing an academic paper, I’d recommend reading their book – it’s short and engaging – and from then on using their terms.  

More about the curve of prediction 

There is a significant literature on the relationship between intention and behavior (Theory of Reasoned Action; Technology Acceptance Model) – this doesn’t mean that 100% of people who express an intention follow through, but it is far more likely that those who strongly express the intention will follow through than those that do not (https://measuringu.com/attitudes-behavior/https://measuringu.com/tam/). 

More about cognitive interviewing 

Gordon Willis’s textbook Cognitive Interviewing: a tool for improving questionnaire design (Willis 2005) is based on his many years of teaching cognitive interviewing in practice and is very good.  

For a more recent book with lots of tips, written by a team of survey methodologists with years of cognitive interviewing experience, try Cognitive Interviewing Practice edited by Debbie Collins (Sage 2015). There’s an example of a cognitive interview in a formal academic setting here: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/washington_group/meeting5/wg5_appendix4.pdf 

Translating questionnaires 

I did not discuss the topic of creating a questionnaire in one language and then recreating it in one or more other languages. There is a special issue of the International Journal of Translation and Interpretation (Transint) on this topic which is a good place to start: 

Vol 10, No 2 (2018) (trans-int.org).