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Questionnaire Auditing: The Quality-Control Step You Cannot Afford to Skip

by Carey V. Azzara  |  
October 26, 2010

In this article, learn...

  • Why the survey questionnaire is the foundation of solid data
  • What a questionnaire audit can do for you
  • What can go wrong with a questionnaire

The value of strong questionnaire design, complemented by the task of high-quality sample development, is not fully appreciated. Too often researchers relegate those two essential building blocks of market research to a status secondary to the analytics and presentation of results. Big mistake!

A strong questionnaire design and, specifically, conducting an audit to ensure quality, is the focus of this article.

Questionnaire Design

Research Axiom No. 1: You can never fully recover from a poorly written questionnaire.

No manipulation of data points, regardless of how cleverly done; no amount of analysis, regardless of how brilliantly executed; and no degree of interpretation, regardless of the intellectual insights, can save you from a poor research foundation. Your building will collapse as if shaken by an earthquake!

Questionnaire design is a task repeatedly given insufficient time and attention. Clients and research professionals alike often underestimate the effort it will take to develop a well-structured and concise research instrument.

What amazes me most? Project leaders relegate the task to a status depicted in this attitude: "Once the questionnaire is done, we can get on with the important stuff, like analysis and reporting."

The assumption that analysis work is the essence of the research, and the expectation that interpreting the results is where the mastery of research ultimately lies, is a mystery to me.

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Carey V. Azzara is the principal and founder of AtHeath, LLC (, a strategic research planning and consulting firm. He is the author of Questionnaire Design for Business Research (Tate Publishing, 2010). Reach him via

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  • by Olga Thu Oct 28, 2010 via web

    So how exactly would one calculate QQC? What is the formula?

  • by Harley Axelrod Sat Nov 6, 2010 via web

    Being a Respondent more these days that a Questionnaire designer, it sometimes seems apparent that the Questionnaire in the final stages has been edited, redrafted and tested by the same person (or committee). A totally fresh set of eyes 'test driving' the final draft version might help improve the Quality of the input.

  • by Arie Mon Nov 8, 2010 via web

    Same as @Olga - what formula do you suggest?

  • by BD Mon Nov 15, 2010 via web

    This is a rather useless article. It does not go on to give us a QC checklist. What's the point? Do it right? Okay. But how?

  • by Erik Sat Nov 27, 2010 via web

    Well, now I know that the author feels that there are a lot of bad questionnaires out there and they should be created by a professional.

    "practitioners must construct questionnaires with great care and skill while avoiding errors throughout the process."

    And this article does nothing to help one do that.

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