How Survey Questionnaire Software Can Help You Get High Quality Data
Your choice of survey questionnaire software can affect the quality of the data you collect using it. Sophisticated survey software includes a variety of logic features that lead to better quality data. The free online data collection programs lack these features. Some of these free programs have paid versions that add some logic features, others do not. Here are some of the features that can enhance data quality.
One is the ability to randomize the order in which a series of answer choices are presented. There is a slight, but real, tendency for people to pick items at the top of a list more than items further down the list. This tendency can make items near the top of a list seem more popular than they really are and items near the bottom seem less popular than they really are. For this reason, it is a good idea to randomize the order in which answer choices are presented, unless they have a natural order (for example a list of the days of the week will have a natural order). This is especially important for preference or recall questions.
Similarly, high quality survey software will let you randomize the order in which a series of questions are presented. Sometimes the order in which questions are presented can affect the responses, because mentioning something in one question may affect the way people think about a later question. Also, if you are asking the same question about a series of items, people tend to give the most thought to the first few items and less to later items. Ideally, you should be able to randomize questions in groups, so that you can ask multiple questions about each of a series of items and have of all the questions about each item kept together, while showing the items in a random order.
Another useful feature is the ability to have the answer choices for one question be limited to the choices either picked in a previous question. For example, you might ask people with which of the following products they are familiar. A follow-up question could ask which of them they use most often. That list should only show the choices with which they were familiar. Otherwise you will likely get some spurious data. Another use of this kind of feature is to show a grid asking people to rate items, without showing items with which they said they weren’t familiar.
The ability to have an answer choice designated as exclusive is also important. For example, you might have a question asking people which of the magazines in a list they read regularly. While you would want to allow people to pick multiple magazines, you wouldn’t want them to be able to pick both Time and None of the Above. You would only want them to be able to pick None of the Above, if that is the only choice.
These are only some of the ways your choice of survey questionnaire software can affect the quality of your data.