Survey Design Software Question Types
Some makers of survey design software like to boast about a large number of question types, saying things like “We offer 21 question types.” But what do such large numbers mean? Usually, these publishers consider every minor variation to be a separate “question type.” For example, The Survey System uses “multiple choice” to describe any question in which a list of labeled choices are presented to the respondent. Some other publishers consider such a list in which the respondent can choose a single answer to be one question type, a list in which the respondent can choose all the options to be another question type and even a list in which a respondent can pick X out of Y options a third type. The Survey System considers all these variations to be multiple choice questions with a setting for how many responses are allowed.
Publishers claiming high numbers of question types also consider drop-down lists to be separate question types, and even consider the choose one, choose several and choose all variations to be separate types. The Survey System just considers presenting choices in a drop-down list an option on multiple choice questions.
Similarly, The Survey System uses “numeric” to describe any question in which numbers are the actual answers, rather than codes for a labeled choice. Numeric questions can include multiple sub questions, for example asking ratings of several items or how many times surgeons have performed each of a variety of operations. The Survey System lets you add restrictions to the answers. For example, if the question asks people to rank several items, it can prevent people from entering the same rank twice. If the question asks what percentage of their monthly budget people spend on different areas, it can prevent the answers from totaling more than 100. Some other publishers consider each of these restrictions to be a separate question type, with names such as “ranking” and “constant sum.”
There are really only four basic question types: select choices from a list, enter numbers, enter text and select choices in a grid. Aside from a few specialized types, such as heat maps (which our software includes), all survey questions are just variations of one of these types. We don’t boast about the number of question types included in The Survey System. We just say our survey design software can handle all the types of questions most researchers ever use.