Questionnaire and Ethics

Questionnaire consists of a list of a research or survey questions asked to respondents, and designed to extract specific information. It serves four basic purposes: to (1) collect the appropriate data, (2) make data comparable and amenable to analysis, (3) minimize bias in formulating and asking question, and (4) to make questions engaging and varied.

But how is this data used? Do the respondents know the purpose of the data that is being collected? Also is the data reliable?

This brings us to the question of ethics. Are there any responsibilities a surveyor should have towards the respondents? Yes they do. Below are a few responsibilities towards respondents

 

  • Name of the organization conducting the study:

This gives the research company name who is responsible for preparing the questionnaire if it is the same company that is going to analyze the result. This helps to track the details of the company and the interviewer in case of any complaints.

 

  • Subject Matter: A broad area of the research should be given to the respondent so that the respondent will have a brief idea about the questionnaire. Giving an exact topic of the research may defy the purpose of research, so must be careful in specifying the subject.  This helps in taking care of the sensitive areas of research like sexual activity,  racial origin,  political opinions, religious or similar beliefs, physical or mental health, implication in criminal activity, trade union membership etc.

 

  • Confidentiality: The respondents of the questionnaire should be well informed about how the data will be used. Will it be used only for the purpose of the present research or will it be stored in the database for direct marketing based on which the respondent may undertake the survey. It is the responsibility of the research company to create privacy for the respondent’s data. This also improves the confidence of the respondents which will help in further research as well.

 

  • Interview Length: Most of the respondents face issues related to the length of the interview. Interview never happens on time and usually takes more time than required. The duration of the interview can be known from the pilot testing of the questionnaire. But sometimes it also depends on the respondent, their way of answering, the speed at which they answer the questions etc. This must be mentioned in the introduction phase itself to make them feel comfortable.

 

  • Source of Name: It is the right of the respondent to know source from there the company received their information. Revealing this data at the start of the survey may sometimes create bias in answering the questionnaire. In that case, it should be revealed after the survey is conducted.

 

  • Cost to respondent: Other than their time, if any other costs are included in conducting the interview or filling the questionnaire then this must be pointed out. For web based interviews or questionnaire, the payment for their internet connection is incurred. Other than that any other costs are involved are generally reimbursed.

 

  • Information about recording in case of interview: The respondent should be well informed about the recording of the interview, either audio or video, so that the respondent will an informed decision so cooperate during the interview.

 

By following the above procedure, the market research agencies will be able to create a positive environment and also gain respect among the respondents which helps in the long run.

References:

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/questionnaire.html#ixzz2tOLtFtey

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Questionnaire_construction

http://www.gdufs.biz/Questionnaire%20Design.pdf

 By: Ramya Thalla_13PGP056_Group7_SectionA

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