Writing surveys isn’t something that comes easily for most people, but with practice, you can write effective concise surveys.
The Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension has produced an easy reference, step-by-step guide for writing surveys. Read A Step-by-Step Guide to Developing Effective Questionnaires and Survey Procedures for Program Evaluation & Research for some great tips to get you started.
Do’s and Don’ts
Regardless of the type of survey, there are some pretty clear “do’s and don’ts”:
(University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, 2010)
Labeling is Everything
When participants are responding to your survey, the labels listed in your survey are actually putting words in participants’ mouths. Use clear, nice words. For example:
- very dissatisfied
- somewhat dissatisfied
- neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
- somewhat satisfied
- very satisfied
…are some of the most common labels. The article Three Tips for Effectively Designing Rating Scales at Qualtrics offers some great insights for writing rating scales.
Also, read Wording for Rating Scales from the University of Wisconsin. This document lists some common wording for scales that will ensure surveys are easy to read and understand.
Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension, NJAES, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (2004). A Step-by-Step Guide to Developing Effective Questionnaires and Survey Procedures for Program Evaluation & Research. Retrieved September 27, 2017 from http://cahnrs.wsu.edu/fs/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/09/A-Step-By-Step-Guide-to-Developing-Effective-Questionnaires.pdf
University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents (2010). Survey Fundamentals: A Guide To Designing And Implementing Surveys. Retrieved September 27, 2017 from https://oqi.wisc.edu/resourcelibrary/uploads/resources/Survey_Guide.pdf
Write clearly and concisely… and don’t forget cognitive testing before you let that survey out into the world!