Demystifying Survey Research: Practical Suggestions for Effective Question Design

Deborah H. Charbonneau


Objectives: Recent research has yielded several studies helpful for understanding the use of the survey technique in various library environments. Despite this, there has been limited discussion to guide library practitioners preparing survey questions. The aim of this article is to provide practical suggestions for effective questions when designing written surveys.

Methods: Advice and important considerations to help guide the process of developing survey questions are drawn from a review of the literature and personal experience.

Results: Basic techniques can be incorporated to improve survey questions, such as choosing appropriate question forms and incorporating the use of scales. Attention should be paid to the flow and ordering of the survey questions. Careful wording choices can also help construct clear, simple questions.

Conclusions: A well-designed survey questionnaire can be a valuable source of data. By following some basic guidelines when constructing written survey questions, library and information professionals can have useful data collection instruments at their disposal.


Research methods; surveys; questionnaires; design

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