Friday, March 21, 2014

Research questionnaire / 3

In light of some of the responses which I have received to the questionnaire which I sent to all email users of my company last week, I've been considering whether creating a questionnaire is something anybody can do or whether it takes special skills. Certainly, there was no mention of creating questionnaires in the DBA courses; maybe it is assumed that the researcher uses a questionnaire that already exists.

Some of the papers which I have read include a questionnaire, but normally the questions are either too widely based or out of date for my purposes. There is one paper - actually a non-academic survey - which presents answers without the questions, and of course it seems that this questionnaire might be the most useful of all. I wrote to the contact address of the survey today; the contact person replied very quickly and said that he would try and find a copy of the questionnaire.

I then had a look at the Academia stack exchange site to see what they had to say about questionnaires. The first question which I found on the subject had answers which strongly advised that creating questionnaires is a skill which must be taught. One person wrote about an 80 hour course!

Another answer mentioned a monograph called "Survey questions: handcrafting the standardized questionnaire" by Jean M. Converse and Stanley Presser. I was able to find an online copy of this short book (88 pages) and have started perusing it. On page 10, the following is written: "Because questionnaires are usually written by educated persons who have a special interest in and understanding of the topic of their inquiry, and because these people usually consult with other educated and concerned persons, it is much more common for questionnaires to be overwritten, overcomplicated and too demanding of the respondent than they are to be simple-minded, superficial and not demanding enough".

I very much understand that paragraph: my questionnaire used several terms which were obvious to me but not to most of the respondents.

I shall ask my mentor two questions
  1. Is it ethical to use questions which appear in other people's questionnaires? I appreciate that if I use the 12-item instrument to measure End User Computing Satisfaction (EUCS) developed by Doll and Torkzadeh (1988) in full, then I have to cite them, but what should I do if I only use one question of theirs, along with one question from someone else?
  2. Why is there no material in the DBA courses about questionnaire development?

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