Writing a Research Paper Questionnaire


(Updated on May 21, 2019 by Michelle Williams)

When completing a research paper, an important component of the research process may be to survey other people.  In order to properly accomplish this and collect relevant data, you should prepare a questionnaire ahead of time that you'll use with the subject population interviewees.


Developing a thorough and relevant research paper questionnaire is essential when gathering information from your subject population.  With the right questions, you can learn a great deal about your subject population and the information can be easily compiled in a manner that can be shared with other professionals.  With the wrong questions, however, the information you gather may not be very helpful and, in some cases, it might not be valid because those being interviewed may have been confused by the questions.

Before you begin to complete a research paper questionnaire, you need to first determine what information you're hoping to gather.  You will need to gather very specific information when using a questionnaire, so you need to have a very clear idea of what you're hoping to learn.  In addition, you might want to consider your target demographic before getting started, as the questions that you ask may need to vary slightly for different groups of people.

Once you have determined the information that you need to gather, you'll need to develop the proper questions.  You should keep the questionnaire as short as possible.  Otherwise, people will tire of the questionnaire and will be less likely to answer it completely.  Or, if they do answer it in its entirety, they may not provide well thought out responses.

The way in which you word your questions is critical.  First, in order to make it easier to gather the data, the questions should be presented in multiple choice format.  Not only will this help you with gathering the data and crunching the numbers, it also helps to guide the interviewees so they have a better understanding of what the question is asking.

You also need to be certain that the questions are easy to understand.  Try setting the questions aside for a week and then reading them again.  In this way, you might be able to better determine if there's a different interpretation of the questions.  Another good idea would be to have a few people read the questions before you use them with your interviewees.  This way, they can let you know if any of the questions are confusing or misleading.

The questions that you include in your questionnaire should also be written in a conversational style that's casual and easy to understand.  Similarly, they should be written in a logical order that slowly evolves from questions of a more general nature to those that are more specific.

You should also avoid writing questions that are suggestive or manipulative in nature, as these questions can illicit false positive responses.  For example, you shouldn't ask, "How great do you think the students performed in the classroom?"  Rather, you should ask, "How was the performance of the students in the classroom?"  Similarly, you should use the same rating scale throughout the entire questionnaire so respondents will not become confused by the scale's meaning.

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