"If you take the time to write good survey questions, you’ll be well on your way to getting the reliable responses you need to reach your goals...Not only do you have to pick what type of question to ask, [but] you [also] have to decide how to ask it...Keeping language simple and direct in general is very important. Talk to people on their level. Avoid grammatical messiness like double negatives and off-putting vocabulary like industry jargon or overly technical concepts. If you are going to reference a concept that your respondents may be unfamiliar with, don’t just gloss over it. Remember, these people are interrupting their busy days to do your survey and they’ve got a lot on their minds...If you don’t explain what you’re talking about, you risk respondents getting frustrated and quitting your survey, or, even worse[,] answering the question randomly. The former will raise the cost of getting your data, and the latter will lower your data quality...Always ask about just one idea at a time...For example, take the question: How organized and interesting was the speaker? If a respondent answers 'moderately' to this question, what does that mean? Moderately organized AND moderately interesting? Extremely interesting but only slightly organized? Or vice[-]versa. This confusion on how to interpret the answer becomes a real problem when you want to give feedback to your speaker. Do you tell her to be more organized or more interesting next time? End all of this confusion simply by writing two questions instead of one. For example: How organized was the speaker? How interesting was the speaker? Now you have separate ratings for each idea—this makes providing feedback quicker and easier for your respondents, and it makes that feedback easier for the speaker to respond to...Writing survey questions that bias respondents toward one answer violates a survey’s objectivity and biases the answers you get to your questions...[T]ry to focus on more specific qualities...[as] it will dilute the power of sweeping generalizations...It’s best if you can avoid inserting your own opinions into the question altogether, as these opinions will bias the answers. This, however, is not always possible. In that case, try to keep the survey balanced as a whole. Frame some of your survey questions in a positive way and some in a negative way...Keeping the tone of your survey balanced and even-handed will ensure that you get people’s 'true' attitudes instead of what they think you want to hear. This will help you make the right decisions, and alert you when you have a problem."
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