Thursday, 11 November 2010

Questionnaires: Obtaining Quantitative/Qualitative data

Questionnaires: Obtaining Quantitative/Qualitative data
Questionnaires are a most convenient and inexpensive way of gathering information from people and could be used to cover a large geographical area. They could be used to either gather quantitative or qualitative data and they are also a better way of reducing interviewer bias because there are “no verbal or visual clues” that could influence a participant (respondent) to answer in a certain way. Questionnaires could be sent through post to a large number of people in different geographical areas. However, some participants may send the questionnaires back while others may not respond.
The objectives of the study could be achieved if Questionnaires are well defined and well designed; so that they could achieve the intended purpose of the study being conducted.
Qualitative Method
Qualitative questionnaires could be used to gather facts about people’s beliefs, feelings, experiences in certain jobs, service offered, activities and so on. The questionnaire is designed in such a way that participants have freedom to express their views in response to the question asked without any influence or clues from the interviewer.
The questions are open ended to allow the respondents to write either positive or negative responses based on the type of questions. The data gathered in this way is helpful if the researchers seek to understand how people feel about certain issues; for example: experiences in using certain products, feelings about service offered by surgeries, hospitals, and restaurant and so on. This type of research method could be useful for companies who seek to understand the experiences and feelings of consumers who use certain products. Responses from the participants could influence the company to change strategies in designing certain products quickly to suit the needs of consumers.
 However, this type of research method may not be helpful if the researchers are interested in quantifying and confirming hypotheses about certain occurrences. The good thing about Qualitative questionnaires is that they are flexible and could be worded in different ways to allow participants to give responses in their own words compared to a “yes or no.”
Quantitative Method
Quantitative questionnaires are a best way to gather numerical data that could be used to confirm hypotheses about occurrences.  Closed ended questions are used in this type of method and are assigned numerical values for the responded to choose from; such as allowing participants to choose their age groups. Then, the respondents choose answers from the given list and have no chance to express their views or opinions about the questions. For example, participants could be asked to rank their feelings based on the given scale; for example, a scale of 1 to 5; 1 being poor and 5 being best. The results are then analysed and placed in graphs, bar charts and so on.
How could we make sure that questionnaires are well understood by respondents?
The key thing about questionnaires is that they should be simple and written in a well understood language; for example, direct language. Otherwise, researchers would not get the information they would be looking for.
References
Robson, C. (2002). Real World Research (2nd). UK: Blackwell Publishing
DJS Research. Qualitative Research. Retrieved November 10, 2010, from http://www.qualitativeresearch.org.uk/index.html  
Walonick, D., S. (1993). Everything you need to know about Questionnaires. Retrieved November 10, 2010, from http://www.statpac.com/research-papers/questionnaires.htm   

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