Good Practice: Designing your questionnaire questions:

Should a question be open or closed?

Open questions ask respondents to provide a free text response:

What was the highlight of the day for you?

Pros: This can give you valuable, in depth information or suggest issues you had not anticipated.

Cons: If respondents provide a broad range of answers, they can be very difficult to analyse and make sense of.

Closed questions give respondents a limited number of possible answers.

What was the most useful workshop for your day job? (Please choose just one):

  • a) Using spreadsheets
  • b) Time management
  • c) Networking
  • d) Communication
  • e) Designing effective questionnaires
  • f) Not sure

Pros: Outcomes should be easier to analyse (depending on whether you ask respondents to select one answer or many).

Cons: Allowing respondents to select more than one option can lead to data that is difficult to make sense of (what if most respondents choose all the available options? What if some respondents make only one or two selections and others five or six, how do you make sense of the balance?)