Guidance for creating and administering surveys

Designing Survey Items

When designing survey items (aka questions), there are some fundamental things to consider. Click here for tips and guidance on designing your own items.

Some of the leading experts in survey item design include Nora Cate Schaeffer and Jennifer Dykema.* They have developed a useful taxonomy of question characteristics to consider, including:

  • Question topic
  • Question type/Domain
  • Response dimension
  • Conceptualization/Operationalization
  • Response format
  • Response categories
  • Question wording/Structure

*Schaeffer, N.C. & Dykema, J. (2011). Questions for Surveys: Current Trends and Future Directions. Public Opinion Quarterly, 75(5), 909–961. 

Designing Surveys

Not only should you carefully consider how to write individual items (questions), but equally important is how you design the overall survey itself. A poorly designed survey can result in low response rates, measurement error, and general frustration for both participant and researcher!

Click here for guidance on survey design.

Qualtrics for Survey Administration

Don’t forget that you should always test your surveys with colleagues, experts in the area of interest, or even practice participants before sending out to your own participants.

  • The Qualtrics online survey platform is freely available to all UCalgary faculty, staff, and students.
  • This UCalgary website contains helpful guidance for using Qualtrics.
  • Find more useful information on the Qualtrics company website.