Importance of Questionnaire

Questionnaire Meaning, Types, Importance

Table of Contents:-

What is questionnaire

The researcher uses the questionnaire as a primary data collection method, posing various questions to gather information from the respondents regarding the identified problem. Research design is a structured set of questions to collect the essential primary data for analysis and interpretation, aiming to address a research problem. This systematic arrangement of questions facilitates the collection of relevant information, enabling researchers to derive meaningful insights and solutions. Using questionnaires, the researchers can ask direct questions to several people.

The questionnaire is a technique of data collection that is widely used not only by those in academics but also by people engaged in marketing, advertising, and other fields. It is designed to collect data from large, diverse, and widely scattered groups of people. A questionnaire consists of several questions that are printed in a definite order. The questionnaire is sent to respondents by hand, post, or email.

At the beginning of the questionnaire itself, the researcher explains their identity and the purpose of the research for which data is being collected through the questionnaire. Often, the researcher adds that the information collected through the questionnaire will be kept confidential, will not be shared with anyone, and will be used only for the purpose it is being collected. This gives a sense of confidence among respondents. It is ethically improper to break the spirit of respondents.

Questionnaire Meaning

The questionnaire helps the researchers in decision making on various issues. Researchers can analyze the responses from the questionnaire quantitatively. The respondents of a questionnaire need no assistance from the researcher to fill the form, unlike in a schedule where the researchers fill the form.

Researchers can administer a questionnaire orally, telephonically, online, and through other means. The success of a questionnaire depends on the skills of the researcher in framing it appropriately. It requires in-depth knowledge, experience, and a lot of patience on the part of the researcher to administer a questionnaire properly.

The designing of a questionnaire is one of the most important aspects of proper data collection. Hence, researchers should frame the questionnaire in such a way that they need not recollect the data, as there would be a single chance to interact with a respondent.

Types of questionnaire

Researchers can classify a questionnaire as either structured or unstructured, and both of these formats allow for further classification as either disguised or non-disguised. It follows a specific format of asking questions, making it structured. Whereas, an unstructured questionnaire allows the researcher to administer questions without any predetermined pattern.

In a disguised questionnaire, researchers do not reveal the research purpose to the respondent, while in a non-disguised questionnaire, they inform the respondent of the research objective in advance. Hence, in this way, the questionnaire can be of the following four types:

1) Structured, Non-Disguised Questionnaire

This questionnaire contains predetermined sets of questions that strictly adhere to a fixed format. The objective or the purpose of this questionnaire is already explained to the respondents because by doing so they can realise the importance and provide the desired response.

The respondents are required to answer the questions in the sequence in which questions are to be asked, the answers of which are provided in specified alternatives. This particular type of set of questions is prevalent among market researchers.

For example, if the sales manager of a four-wheeler automobile company wants to know the buying preferences of consumers, a formal set of structured questions is necessary to design. It will help in finding the required information from the masses. It may include the following sequential questions:

i) Do you own a four-wheeler? Yes___ No___

ii) If yes, which brand? Toyota___Tata___Maruti___ Hyundai___

iii) Which fuel does it run on? LPG___Petrol___CNG___Diesel___

iv) What is the best characteristic of your car? Safety____Fuel Efficiency___Space___Comfort___

There are three fundamental methods for administering structured, non-disguised questionnaires: personal interviews, mailing, and telephone surveys. These methods serve as effective means to gather valuable data from respondents. Limitations of this kind of survey form include the inability of respondents to provide the desired information, the unwillingness of respondents, and the ineffectiveness of questions in deriving correct responses.

2) Non-Structured, Non-Disguised Questionnaire

A non-structured, non-disguised questionnaire consists of open-ended questions that differ from structured, non-disguised questionnaires. Here, the objective of the study is made clear at the beginning so that the respondent is aware of the purpose of his answers to be used in the research. Open-ended questions facilitate the respondents to talk about their experiences, opinions and viewpoints. Since, these are unstructured, deciding the sequence of asking questions entirely depends upon the researcher.

For example, how do you feel about Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises sexual activities that are against the order of nature? The subsequent questions will be contingent upon the responses provided by the participants. This kind of interview is called an ‘in-depth interview’.

The benefit of this kind of questionnaire is that a large amount of information may be collected and the researcher is free to change the series of questions as needed. Only desired information is gathered through this questionnaire as per preferences. This questionnaire also suffers from several limitations. Administering surveys can be time-consuming, often compounded by potential non-cooperation from respondents. Consequently, quantifying open-ended responses can pose a significant challenge.

3) Structured, Disguised Questionnaire

In this type of questionnaire, the researcher does not reveal the purpose of the study, while maintaining a structured approach to the research. Here the researcher tries to expose the latent perceptions of respondents through the use of psychometric scales.

This survey form is used in case of the inability of the non-disguised questionnaire. Through this method, the information known by the respondent is explored, rather than their sentiments towards an object or issue. For example, “What do you think about the 9/11 attacks?”.

4) Non-Structured, Disguised Questionnaire

As the name reflects, the non-structured, disguised questionnaire is one in which, questions are not pre-arranged and the purpose of the interview is not revealed to the respondent to obtain their original and unbiased reactions.

The concept behind this idea is that respondents would express their attitude without any hesitation, which may not be accurately reflected when the purpose is disclosed. In this context, the interviews encompass various techniques such as word association tests, storytelling exercises, sentence completion tests, and more.

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Importance of Questionnaire

Questionnaires are advantageous due to the following reasons:

  1. Accessible to a Large Population
  2. Free from Bias
  3. Ease in Data Compilation and Analysis
  4. Maintains Secrecy
  5. Easy to Design and Interpret
  6. Sufficient Time for Respondents to Answer

Importance of Questionnaire

1) Accessible to a Large Population

The researcher can reach many people easily through a survey form. Using a mail question sheet, one can have the responses of geographically dispersed individuals cost-effectively. For example, the internet is a very useful medium for companies to get online feedback from users about their products and services.

2) Free from Bias

Since the questionnaire is mostly self-administered it frees the study from any biases that the researcher could have. Unlike the face-to-face interviews, here the researcher does not usually interrupt during the filling of the questionnaire by the respondents. Hence, the researcher cannot alter the responses, which in turn reduces personal hisses. This results in genuine responses and valid outcomes.

3) Ease in Data Compilation and Analysis

The questionnaire provides very convenient and easy to complicated Information to the researchers. The data recorded with the help of questionnaires are usually structured and in simple format. Hence, data can easily be analysed, compared, and compiled in charts, tables or graphs.

4) Maintains Secrecy

Many times the subject matter of the research is such that of a very sensitive or personal nature. In these cases, a self-administered questionnaire proves highly advantageous as it enables the respondent to freely express their opinions while ensuring confidentiality. Since respondents are not afraid of being identified or highlighted, they honestly answer the questions.

5) Easy to Design and Interpret

The questionnaire is a tool which is used for efficient data collection and analysis purposes.  It is easy to design and interpret. Respondents can easily understand the questions and provide their authentic responses. Once the objective of the research is clear, it takes less time to design a particular questionnaire.

Researchers find coding and analyzing responses to be a straightforward task due to the consistent nature of the technique employed. This is achieved by posing the same set of questions to each participant, ensuring uniformity throughout the process.

6) Sufficient Time for Respondents to Answer

The Questionnaire provides sufficient time to think and reply it is given to the respondent to fill it out at his or her convenience time, with full attention Respondents can also change their answers by recalling facts.

Guidelines for the Construction of a Questionnaire

The following are the guidelines for constructing a questionnaire:

(i) A questionnaire should mention the purpose for which it will be used.

(ii) Respondents should be provided clear instructions for completing the questionnaire.

(iii) All questions should be in simple language, easy to understand, and self-explanatory.

(iv) All the questions should relate to the study’s objectives. Unnecessary questions should be excluded from the questionnaire.

(v) The number of questions should be manageable. It has been found that respondents get bored or need more time to fill out lengthy questionnaires.

(vi) Questions should be arranged judiciously. Simple questions should be placed in the beginning, and complex ones should be placed towards the end.

(vii) Questions should be logically arranged. One question should be related to the other.

Characteristics of a good questionnaire

The characteristics of a good questionnaire can be analyzed based on the following criteria:

1. Language

The language of a good questionnaire should be concise and directed towards producing uniform understanding among respondents. Vocabulary should be simple and within the easy grasp of the least intelligent in the study group. The syntax should be clear and straightforward, avoiding vague phrases and expressions. Technical language should be used sparingly, especially if the inquiry is directed to a non-technical audience. Proverbs and quotations should be avoided, and subjective words like ‘bad,’ ‘good,’ ‘fair,’ etc., are discouraged unless used for comparisons on a rating scale.

2. Purpose

A good questionnaire must serve two purposes. First, it must translate the objectives of an investigation into specific questions. These questions should provide data necessary to test hypotheses and explore the area defined by the objectives. Each question should correspond to a specific objective to facilitate the analysis and interpretation of responses. Research objectives and data requirements should precede the construction of the questionnaire. Secondly, the questionnaire must motivate respondents to communicate the required information. It is essential to include a courteous and carefully constructed cover letter explaining the purpose and importance of the study, assuring respondents of the confidentiality of sensitive information.

3. Arrangement of Questions

Special attention should be given to the arrangement or ordering of questions, ensuring they appear logical to respondents. The easiest questions should be placed first, and ‘interest-generating’ questions should be asked early. Questions should proceed from the general to specific, from simple to complex, and from those creating a favourable attitude to those that may be delicate or sensitive.

4. Frame of Reference

Respondents’ frames of reference influence their answers. Complex questions requiring several steps of reasoning should be avoided, as they often result in misleading information. Controversial issues should be broken down into components to understand respondents’ feelings about various aspects of the problem. Specific questions should uncover degrees of intensity of feeling or conviction. Questions should be within the informational domain of the respondents, considering their comprehension level.

5. Form of Response

The form of response should align with the form of the questions. Different forms of responses may be integrated into the same questionnaire, depending on the nature of the questions. Questions requiring “Yes” or “No” answers are subject to the least bias and are easy to tabulate. However, for more comprehensive information, multiple-choice responses may be desirable, especially when choices are few and easy to follow.

6. Length of the Questionnaire

A questionnaire should not be longer than necessary. The total number of questions should not be overwhelming to respondents to avoid fatigue and ensure well-answered questions. If any questions are necessary, consider using separate questionnaires.

Uses of questionnaire

The uses of questionnaires are explained below:

1. Questionnaires are used both to initiate a formal inquiry and to supplement and check data previously accumulated. They may pertain to studies of economic or social problems, measurement of opinions on public issues or events, studies of administrative policies and changes, consumer expenditure, studies on the cost of living, child welfare, and many other issues.

2. A questionnaire is administered personally, either individually or to a group of individuals, or is mailed to them to save a significant amount of time and money in travel. In the former situation, the person administering the tool has an opportunity to establish rapport with the respondents, explain the purpose of the study, and clarify the meaning of questions that may not be clear to them. In the latter situation, a mailed questionnaire is mostly used when individuals cannot be contacted personally. The range of administration of a mailed questionnaire may be national or international.

3. A questionnaire is a popular means of collecting various types of data in research. It is widely used in educational research to obtain information about specific conditions and practices, as well as to inquire into the opinions of individuals or groups.

Limitations of questionnaires

Limitations of questionnaires are explained below:

1. The return rate for mailed questionnaires is often as low as 40 per cent to 50 per cent. This poor response can lead to data of limited validity, as the respondents who return the questionnaires may not be representative of the entire group. This can result in a biased sample, compromising the findings.

2. It can be challenging to formulate and phrase questions on certain complex and delicate problems.

3. Questionnaires cannot be effectively used with children and illiterates.

4. Respondents may modify their original responses to questions when they realize that their answers to subsequent questions contradict the previous ones.

5. Respondents may be reluctant to provide written responses to questions of an intimate or confidential nature or questions involving controversial issues. For example, people may avoid questions related to marriage, and government servants may refrain from answering questions about government policy matters.

6. There is no mechanism to check on respondents who misinterpret a question or provide incomplete or indefinite responses.


1. What is a questionnaire?

A questionnaire is an instrument for data collection commonly used by researchers to gather information on a specific research topic. To collect data, the researcher compiles a list of questions for which answers are needed. This list of questions, arranged in a particular order, is either personally administered or sent/mailed to the target population.

A questionnaire consists of written questions for respondents to answer, and the responses serve as primary data for the investigation. 

According to Krishan Kumar (1992), “a questionnaire is a written document listing a series of questions related to the problem under study, to which the investigator requires answers.” 

Schvaneveltd (1985) defines a questionnaire as “a data-gathering device that elicits from a respondent the answers or reactions to printed (pre-arranged) questions presented in a specific order.” Questionnaires are frequently employed in surveys as the primary instruments for data collection.

2. What are the types of questionnaire in research?

Generally, three types of questionnaire in research are popularly used Structured, Unstructured and Open-ended Questionnaires.

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