Questionnaire method of data collection

  • Questionnaire is as an instrument for research, which consists of a list of questions, along with the choice of answers, printed or typed in a sequence on a form used for acquiring specific information from the respondents.
  • In general, questionnaires are delivered to the persons concerned either by post or mail, requesting them to answer the questions and return it.
  • Informants are expected to read and understand the questions and reply in the space provided in the questionnaire itself.
  • The questionnaire is prepared in such a way that it translates the required information into a series of questions, that informants can and will answer.

Questionnaire method of data collection

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Characteristics of a Good Questionnaire

The following are characteristics of good questionnaires:

  • It should consist of a well-written list of questions.
  • The questionnaire should deal with an important or significant topic to create interest among respondents.
  • It should seek only that data which cannot be obtained from other sources.
  • It should be as short as possible but should be comprehensive.
  • It should be attractive.
  • Directions should be clear and complete.
  • It should be represented in good psychological order proceeding from general to more specific responses.
  • Double negatives in questions should be avoided.
  • Putting two questions in one question also should be avoided. Every question should seek to obtain only one specific information.
  • It should be designed to collect information which can be used subsequently as data for analysis.

Format of Questions in Questionnaires

The questions asked can take two forms:

  • Restricted questions, also called closed-ended, ask the respondent to make choices — yes or no, check items on a list, or select from multiple choice answers.
    • Restricted questions are easy to tabulate and compile.
  • Unrestricted questions are open-ended and allow respondents to share feelings and opinions that are important to them about the matter at hand.
    • Unrestricted questions are not easy to tabulate and compile, but they allow respondents to reveal the depth of their emotions.
  • If the objective is to compile data from all respondents, then sticking with restricted questions that are easily quantified is better.
  • If degrees of emotions or depth of sentiment is to be studied, then develop a scale to quantify those feelings.

Uses of Questionnaires

  • Questionnaires are a common and inexpensive research tool used by private companies, government departments, individuals, groups, NGOs etc to get feedback, research, collect data from consumer, customers or from general public depending on the need.
  • Questionnaires are the most important part of primary surveys.

Advantages of Questionnaire

  • One of the greatest benefits of questionnaires lies in their uniformity — all respondents see exactly the same questions. 
  • It is an inexpensive method, regardless of the size of the universe.
  • Free from the bias of the interviewer, as the respondents answer the questions in his own words.
  • Respondents have enough time to think and answer.
  • Due to its large coverage, respondents living in distant areas can also be reached conveniently.

Limitations of Questionnaire

  • The risk of collection of inaccurate and incomplete information is high in the questionnaire, as it might happen that people may not be able to understand the question correctly.
  • The rate of non-response is high.


  1. Kumar, R. (2011). Research methodology: A step-by-step guide for beginners. Los Angeles: SAGE.
  2. Walliman, Nicholas. Research Methods: The Basics. London: Routledge, 2011. Print.

About Author

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Sagar Aryal

Sagar Aryal is a microbiologist and a scientific blogger. He is doing his Ph.D. at the Central Department of Microbiology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. He was awarded the DAAD Research Grant to conduct part of his Ph.D. research work for two years (2019-2021) at Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), Saarbrucken, Germany. Sagar is interested in research on actinobacteria, myxobacteria, and natural products. He is the Research Head of the Department of Natural Products, Kathmandu Research Institute for Biological Sciences (KRIBS), Lalitpur, Nepal. Sagar has more than ten years of experience in blogging, content writing, and SEO. Sagar was awarded the SfAM Communications Award 2015: Professional Communicator Category from the Society for Applied Microbiology (Now: Applied Microbiology International), Cambridge, United Kingdom (UK). Sagar is also the ASM Young Ambassador to Nepal for the American Society for Microbiology since 2023 onwards.

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