Carrying out independent research as a final year student can be a challenging task. Your final year project is an essential part of your undergraduate programme, which you must successfully complete before graduation. Every step from the approval of your project topic to your final report submission needs to be executed excellently. A major determinant of the success of your research is the quality of data you’re able to gather. To investigate your research problem, you’ll need to collect data from predetermined respondents and analyse your data appropriately. This article is focus on equipping you with the knowledge on how to develop a questionnaire for your research project.
The method you’ll use to gather data for your research largely depends on your research objectives and whether you’ll need information from a primary or secondary source. However, for undergraduate research projects, questionnaires for your final project are one of the most widely used methods of data collection. Therefore, knowing how to develop and structure your questionnaire is crucial to getting high quality and meaningful data that effectively answers your research questions. If you’re wondering how you’ll develop a good questionnaire for your research, then you’ll certainly find this article invaluable.
Here! Let’s look at 7 useful tips to help you develop a questionnaire for your research project.
7 Useful Tips on How to Develop a Questionnaire For Your Research Project
Understand the purpose of your questionnaire
It’s essential that you carefully identify and define the goal of your questionnaire. This is necessary because a questionnaire with random, generalised questions will not provide concrete data for your research. Your questionnaire is expected to help you get answers to your research questions. Therefore, every question in your questionnaire should be closely linked to your research questions. If your research is looking to test a hypothesis, then the questions in your questionnaire should systematically test this hypothesis.
Select the type of questions for your questionnaire.
There are different types of questions that you could use in your questionnaire. Each question type has its unique features. Your choice will depend on the kind of information you’re hoping to gather. Some common types of questions include:
- Dichotomous questions: These are questions in which the respondents are expected to answer Yes/No or Agree/Disagree. They’re close-ended questions and are easy and quick to analyse. However, they’re not sensitive and don’t offer deep insight into a subject.
- Open-ended questions: These questions are helpful when a researcher seeks to gain in-depth understanding of a subject. They allow the researcher to study the motives, thoughts, and attitudes behind decisions made. They address the issue of ”why.” The respondents answer these questions by explaining in their own words. These questions may, however, not be suitable for a target population that is uneducated or unable to express themselves with words.
- Multiple choice questions: Here, the respondents are expected to select one or more answers from three or more mutually exclusive categories. The data obtained are usually easy to analyse but may not provide the researcher with in-depth knowledge.
- Rank-order/Ordinal scale questions: These questions allow the respondents to rank items in a particular order. E.g. from least to most important. It allows for discrimination among items but doesn’t provide the reason behind the discrimination.
- Rating scale questions: Here, you’ll provide a scale of answer options from any range such as 1 to 10 or ”strongly agree” to ”strongly disagree”. The respondents are required to select the number that most accurately describes their response. Though flexible, these questions don’t answer the question ”why.”
Ask only necessary questions, and keep it short and concise
Avoid asking questions that are unnecessary and unrelated to your research questions. If your questionnaire is too long, there is a greater chance of your respondents becoming distracted and unwilling to answer all the questions, or they may simply give incorrect answers. This would affect the quality of your data, so make your questions relevant, short and concise.
Ask only one question at a time using simple language
A good questionnaire should be easy to understand. Avoid using statements that are complex with technical jargon. This could make your respondents confused and lead to erroneous answers. Also, don’t ask more than one question at a time by trying to join two questions together, to avoid confusion.
Explain the purpose of your survey to respondents
It’s always a great idea to begin your questionnaire by writing a brief introduction, stating the purpose of your questionnaire, and what you intend to achieve. This way, respondents understand that kind of information you’re looking to get, and they are able to provide authentic and relevant answers. Also, state the expected survey duration. This will help respondents prepare their minds and set aside sufficient time to complete the questionnaire.
Carefully choose the preferred format for your questionnaire
There are different formats you could use for your survey with the most common being the online and paper surveys. Online questionnaires can easily be shared through emails or social media, and your respondents can complete them on their mobile devices. Paper questionnaires are easier to access since they don’t require internet connection or a computer. Before designing your questionnaire, you need to choose the format that’ll be most appropriate for your research project and respondents. You may consider using both paper and online questionnaires where possible, to achieve a wider reach and get more responses.
Keep personal information optional
Although demographic information is essential in data collection, leaving personal questions optional will encourage more people to participate in your survey. Most people are reluctant to give out their personal details like phone numbers and home addresses to strangers, especially online.
Remember that how you design your questionnaire is crucial to getting authentic and relevant data for your research. By applying these useful tips above, you’ll be able to develop a suitable questionnaire for your final year project.
Do you have any questions? Don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section below. We look forward to hearing from you!