How to Write Statistically Valid Questions

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Have you signed off on the direction of your survey? If yes, then now it’s time to draft your survey questions.

You need to be very careful when designing the survey questions. Here you’ll get into the science and psychology of survey and assessment design. Writing statistically valid questions is not easy and it is a lot more complicated than you may have thought. This is the reason people spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to design a survey aligned with empirical research. However, with the help of a good online survey tool and following some best practices, you can create a well-designed survey.

Below are some of the structural mistakes to avoid while designing survey:

Don’t Include Leading Questions

Researchers usually try to formulate survey questions that can help provide key insights. However, you want to avoid asking leading questions–those questions that really lead one to select a specific response. For instance, “How good was Star Wars?” is likely to trigger positive associations and bias your responses. Make sure to craft questions in a way that they don’t lead to a specific response.

Avoid Assumptive Closes

There are questions that assume an answer at the outset. For instance, “What if the sales budget increased this year?”, “How much will sales increase this year?” More than likely, such questions will not capture the data that you seek.

Don’t Involve Answers

Avoid including questions that are based on specific cause-and-effect response. “If you want to improve the sales output this year then how much success rate would you expect from your hard work?” Most of the people out there will answer 0% to that question.

Never Compel

Don’t skew your data by including questions that explicitly coerce answers. For instance, “Will you gift your brother on his birthday to prove your love?” These types of questions don’t actually offer valid results.

Include Right Rating Scale

Your rating scale is crucial in ensuring your survey is setup in a valid way. You should not haphazardly select a strongly disagree to strongly agree scale, but rather carefully consider what scale is most appropriate for your research questions. For example, if you were measuring one’s affect, you may wish to opt for a very dissatisfied to very satisfied scale (as a shameless plug, the Ambivista Survey Insights Suite contains more than 40 automatic rating scale options!).

Focus on Language

To minimize the friction in your survey questions, keep the question language as simple as possible. If the language of the question would not be clear then it will ultimately result in invalid data (that is, if they hadn’t abandoned the survey first). So, avoid including confusing language that people outside your respondent pool wouldn’t understand.

Leveraging the aforementioned tips on the Ambivista survey Insights Suite (the industry’s best survey software) will provide you with an immediate improvement of your survey questions. However, for professional help, get in touch with our experts for assistance designing your perfect questionnaire.

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