Things to keep in mind when creating surveys

This document introduces common mistakes we see on Google Surveys. Having good survey design for your research helps to enhance data quality and a better user experience.

Spelling and grammar issues (all)

Most mistakes involve spelling and grammar, which can be crucial for your data quality.

 

Example:
Using “u” instead of “you” or “Cofee” instead of “Coffee” could be misunderstood by respondents and could affect the quality of your responses.

Best Practice: 
Use a spelling/grammar checker and preview your content before submission.

Using a suitable language (all)

Questions and answers need to be written in a language widely accepted and understood in the target country.

 

Example:
The question and answer choices are written in Japanese while its targeting option is set to the U.S.

Best Practice: 
Rewrite the question/answer choices in English, keeping the targeting option set to the U.S.

OR

Change the targeting option to Japan, keeping the question/answer choices in Japanese.

Unnecessary capitalization (all)

Question/answer text may not contain unnecessary capitalization of words or phrases.

 

Example:
Unnecessary emphasis on individual words or phrases.

Best Practice:
Making a word or phrase bold by putting asterisks around it (*Apple*), or italic by using underscores (_Apple_), also has the same highlight effect.

Asking for demographic information (all)

If you plan to ask respondents to specify their age range, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or immigration status, make sure the question meets the following requirements:

  • The answer choices are in groups or ranges.
  • There is an “I prefer not to say” answer choice.
  • For questions asking for age, the answer choices shouldn’t directly or indirectly contain any age under 18.

Example:
The answer choice “Under 18” is not allowed, and it does not include “I prefer not to say” option.

Best Practice:
Remove “Under 18” and add an “I prefer not to say”.

Inappropriate question format (all)

If you want respondents to select only one choice, the Multiple-answers question format isn’t appropriate because it allows them to choose more than one answer.

   

Example:
The respondents can choose more than one answer.

Best Practice:
Use the Single-answer format or Rating Scale question type instead.

Missing an opt-out answer choice (Single Answer Q)

An opt-out answer choice such as “None of the above” or “Others” can help keep the response quality high when the answer choices don’t apply to everybody.

 

Example:
Those who don’t drink alcohol at all won’t be able to answer the question.

Best Practice:
Add an answer option “None of the above” or “Other”.

Conflicting answer choices (Multiple-Answers Q)

More than one answer and there is an automatic “None of the above” option to the list. Make sure there are no conflicting answer choices in the list.

 

Example:
If a respondent picks “Germany” and “I have never been abroad before”, then it won’t make sense and result in poor data quality.

Best Practice:
Remove the option, “I have never been abroad before”.

Rating scales not clear (Rating)

The “Rating Scale” format lets people choose from a range of options. The clarity of the range is crucial in order for respondents to provide accurate responses.

 

Example:
The question asks “how important”, but the scale ranges are from “no” to “yes”.

Best Practice:
Edit the ranges from "Not important” to “Very important".

Character limit (Open-ended)

 

Example:
The question asks for as many names as possible, but respondents can enter only a maximum number of characters (e.g., 44 characters in English).

Best Practice:
Change the second sentence to "Please enter 2 to 3 names that you can recall".

Numeric value answers in open-ended format (Open-ended)

Example:
The question asks for answers in numeric values, e.g. 0, 1 or 2 (times), but open-ended format (including open-ended “other” field) is only suitable for text answers

Best Practice:
Change the question type to single answer format and include answer options with numeric values for respondents to choose from.

Each survey question can only ask one question (Open-ended)

Example:
There are 2 questions in the example above. For open-ended question format, only a single question is allowed.

Best Practice:
Consider splitting into two separate questions, or possibly reword.

Binary (Screening Q)

The first screening question should have more than 3 answer choices because incidence accuracy is better when binary questions are not used.

Example:
The question above has 2 answer choices, Yes or No.

Best Practice:
Having three answers or more helps eliminate confusion for the respondents, provides a better user experience, and improves the quality of survey results. Please add a possible third response such as "Maybe" or "Not sure".

Inappropriate Image (Image Q)

Images should be clear, legible and compliant with all other content policies. Images larger than 300x250 pixels will be shrunk to that size, and must be in GIF, JPEG, or PNG formats. Animated GIFs are not allowed.

Inappropriate Video (Video Q)

There can only be one video in a survey, and it must be shorter than 2 minutes, match the survey language in either its audio or subtitle, set to public or unlisted and be strictly compliant with all other content policies. Also, surveys with video questions can only have one screening question.

Pinning the right answer

Answer choices "None of the Above", "All of the Above" or “XX of the above” must be pinned (by using the pinning feature) to always show at the bottom of the answer list.

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