Dear Friends, Planning to write your own questionnaires? If so, see the main article for some practical tips and best practices. Also, our newest cl

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Dear Friends,

Planning to write your own questionnaires? If so, see the main article for some practical tips and best practices.

Also, our newest class is now online. Check out the details of "Reorganizing the Market Research Function," below.

Does your company email system strip out images and attachments? Link to the full newsletter on the web here: March Updates.

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Doing More Research In-House? Avoid These Questionnaire Problems


If you are doing more market research in-house (as opposed to hiring outside market research agencies), sooner or later you will face a choice: write questionnaires yourself, or hire a market research freelancer to do it for you.

There are many market research freelancers available for ad hoc projects like this. They work with you to understand the project’s goals, and usually deliver a final survey instrument within 3 iterations. In fact, if you want introductions to such freelancers, send a note to, and I’ll connect you with some qualified folks.

If you plan to craft surveys in-house, there are many great resources for learning how to design questionnaires. Here at Research Rockstar, our VIP members have access to actual survey example templates. There is also a class available to all Research Rockstar members (yes, even Free-level members), “10-Point Checklist for Questionnaire Design.” Most of the online survey platform companies (Cvent, Questionpro, SurveyGizmo, Survey Monkey, Wufoo, Inc) also offer a generous number of survey examples you can borrow from.

So starting the questionnaire design process (assuming you have well-defined goals), is actually pretty easy. It’s the finishing part that gets tricky. How do you know it is ready for release? How can you be confident you haven’t made any egregious errors? How can you determine if it is really going to meet your expectations? Mitigate these risks by following a few best practices:

Have a friend or colleague sanity check it. Before you go live, have someone take the survey as if they were an actual research participant. Do they find it onerous? Too full of jargon? In anyway off-putting? Even a short survey can turn people off—if it contains obscure words, has an odd question sequence, or in any way comes off as unprofessional.

Evaluate the questions for audience fit. Do you need to add any screening questions to make sure they are qualified? For example, if you plan to target working parents for a survey about restaurant behaviors, you may need a screening question that confirms a minimal level of household income.

Think about how you will want to analyze the results when data collection is complete. Using the same example, will you want to see how restaurant behaviors vary based on income level? Number of children? Attitudes about food and exercise? Maybe urban vs suburban location? Once you know how you will want to analyze your data, make sure you have included the right items in the questionnaire. I have seen it happen: someone does a project, collects all the data, and then realizes they forgot to ask something critical for the analysis.

Double check for “bad” survey questions. Questions that are too long, vague or leading. Below are a few examples. In the first example, the question is just too vague. My idea of “sometimes” may be once a week. Yours might be 3 times a week. How could you use this data? Not very well.

The second and third examples are just boring. And onerous, which means you may get a lot of qualified people dropping out of the survey because it was just too painful for them. You can get away with 1 or 2 boring questions in a questionnaire, but don't push your luck.

Examples of "bad" survey questions:



In an ideal world, you would always hire a trained professional to construct your questionnaires. If that is an option for you, there are many market research agencies and independent consultants available to help you. But if hiring an outside resource is not an option, you can minimize your risks by starting with a good sample survey, applying the sanity checks above, and conducting a careful pre-test process.

Want more information on finding market research freelancers? Have any questions about Research Rockstar’s online class, “10-Point Checklist for Questionnaire Design”? Send a note to Thanks!

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New Class Just Added: Reorganizing the Market Research Function

VIP-level members now have access to a new class, “Reorganizing the Market Research Function.”

Are you thinking about starting a new market research department? Or changing how market research is run within your organization? In this 40-minute tutorial, you will learn:
* How to assess your organization's needs for market research structure
* Common approaches for organizing the market research function
* Practical options for setting research-related policies

Current members: Access your VIP Member page here: LOG-IN

Not yet a VIP member? Sign up or upgrade your Free membership here: BECOME A VIP MEMBER


Finding the RIGHT Market Research Agency for Your Next Project

Need help creating a qualified short-list of market research agencies for your next project? We work with clients to build short-lists that will save you time, money and aggravation. Give us a call; it takes just 5 minutes to explain the process so you can decide if it makes sense for your needs. Call 508.691.6004 ext 705 or email

Member Info

If you are a member, remember that you can view the classes on your membership page as often as you want. Check your page today to see what else has been added recently.

Not yet a member? Choose from 4 membership levels, which start with Free. The higher the level, the more content is available. It's simple.

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Thanks for Reading!

That's my news for now. If you have any questions or comments, please call or email me. And be sure to check out the site for my recent blog posts, including one on upcoming market research conferences.


508.691.6004 ext 705


About Research Rockstar
Research Rockstar delivers on-demand training and tools to busy professionals seeking Market Research excellence. Our clients are buyers and users of market research services—people who need to find, buy and manage market research resources. In addition to online training materials, on-site workshops and speaking engagements are available.

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