A key element in the success or failure of surveys is the way that questions are worded. De Vaus (2002) provides a handy checklist that can help mitigate poorly pitched questions.
The following checklist to guide the wording of questions may be useful :
- Is the language simple?
- Can the question be shortened?
- Is the question double-barrelled?
- Is the question leading?
- Is the question negative?
- Is the respondent likely to have the necessary knowledge?
- Will the words have the same meaning to everyone?
- Is there a prestige bias?
- Is the question ambiguous?
- Is the question too precise?
- Is the frame of reference for the question sufficiently clear?
- Does the question artificially create opinions?
- Is personal or impersonal wording preferable?
- Is the question wording unnecessarily detailed or objectionable?
- Does the question have dangling alternatives?
- Does the question contain gratuitous qualifiers?
- Is the question a ‘dead giveaway’?