Studies of Welfare Populations: Data Collection and Research Issues. Questionnaire as Source of Measurement Error

06/01/2002

Ideally a question will convey to the respondent the meaning of interest to the researcher. However, several linguistic, structural, and environmental factors affect the interpretation of the question by the respondent. These factors include the specific question wording, the structure of each question (open versus closed), and the order in which the questions are presented. Question wording is often seen as one of the major problems in survey research; although one can standardize the language read by the respondent or the interviewer, standardizing the language does not imply standardization of the meaning. In addition, a respondent's perception of the intent or meaning of a question can be shaped by the sponsorship of the survey, the overall topic of the questionnaire, or the environment more immediate to the question of interest, such as the context of the previous question or set of questions or the specific response options associated with the question.

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