14 Tips for Designing an Effective Research Questionnaire/Survey

All research studies require a range of data to analyze. Questionnaires and surveys are essential tools for gathering this necessary information. These tools can be used not only in a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of medicine but also in statistical analysis to check how people cope with allergies.  Such questionnaires and surveys can also help you discover new information, open new doors for study, and develop new solutions.

The Basics of a Questionnaire

Case Report Forms (CRF) are an example of a questionnaire used in many scientific studies. CRFs are an essential tool for clinical research and are used to maintain the validity and quality of the collected information.

There are many types of questionnaire used in scientific studies. Some essential characteristics of a good survey that researchers need to know, including:

  1. A clear understanding of the focus of the research and the type of data that needs to be collected.
  2. A clear and consistent format.
  3. Clear and concise instructions.
  4. Clear language for the questions.
  5. Definition of terms.

These characteristics ensure that a study is done thoroughly and without an error.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The development of questionnaires takes a lot of time and research. However, the wealth of information gathered and analyzed can further develop your research ideas.


  1. Cost-Effective: Designing a well-crafted questionnaire will save you both time and money. This is especially true for online questionnaires that remove the burden of printing and shipping costs.
  1. Easy to Use: As with any type of research, analysis and forecasting are easier if you collect large amounts of information. Tools like Survey Anyplace have a format that gives you a way to gather vast amounts of data. Questionnaires also offer you the flexibility to manage them as per your need.
  1. Effective for All Audience Sizes: Questionnaires allow you to gather information from an audience of any size. You can target a small group to gather information in a local event or a large group for a scientific study that requires a wider range of participants.


1. Respondent Issues: While there are many positives to using questionnaires, there are some issues that can arise with the respondents and their responses.

  • Dishonesty: Respondents might not be completely truthful in their answers. This can happen as a result of trying to fit some social role or to protect their own privacy.
  • Emotional Responses: Emotions can alter a respondent’s interpretation of a question and their possible answer.
  • Bias: If an individual does not like a question or the larger ideas behind the survey, they could purposefully alter their responses to fit their own bias.

2. Difficulties of Interpretation: One issue could be the difference between how you develop a question and how a respondent might interpret it. This could result in an irrelevant answer that might be off topic or too subjective.

3. Lack of Personalization: Surveys can sometimes come across as impersonal. This lack of customization might lead potential respondents to ignore the survey or not put much effort into providing answers.

What to Avoid When Building a Questionnaire

Fortunately, there are websites that offer a step-by-step guide to building an effective questionnaire. Despite these tutorials, there are mistakes that you could still make. Here are three things to avoid when building a survey.

  1. Length: Too many questions could lead a respondent to lose interest and skip questions.
  1. Unclear Questions: Avoid Leading and open-ended questions.
  1. Bias: The survey needs to be objective. All questions should be neutral to ensure clear, objective answers from the respondents.

What are your experiences in taking or drafting questionnaires? Do you have any experiences developing a questionnaire for a project? Please share your ideas with us in the comments section below.

Rate this article

You might also like

Sign-up to read more

Subscribe for free to get unrestricted access to all our resources on research writing and academic publishing including:

  • 2000+ blog articles
  • 50+ Webinars
  • 10+ Expert podcasts
  • 50+ Infographics
  • Q&A Forum
  • 10+ eBooks
  • 10+ Checklists
  • Research Guides
[contact-form-7 id="40123" title="Global popup two"]

    Researchers Poll

    What is your preferred medium to share your views and opinions?