Pareto Principle Checklist for Question Design

Problems to watch out for before testing the questionnaire.

  1. PROBLEMS WITH READING: Determine whether it is difficult for the interviewers to read the question uniformly to all respondents.
    1a – WHAT TO READ: Interviewers may have difficulty determining what parts of the question are to be read.
    1b – MISSING INFORMATION: Information the interviewer needs to administer the question is not contained in the question.
    1c – HOW TO READ: Question is not fully scripted and therefore difficult to read.

  2. PROBLEMS WITH INSTRUCTIONS: Look for problems with any introductions, instructions, or explanations from the respondent’s point of view.
    2a – CONFLICTING OR INACCURATE INSTRUCTIONS, introductions, or explanations.
    2b – COMPLICATED INSTRUCTIONS, introductions, or explanations.

  3. PROBLEMS WITH ITEM CLARITY: Identify problems related to communicating the intent or meaning of the question to the respondent.
    3a – WORDING: The question is lengthy, awkward, ungrammatical, or contains complicated syntax.
    3b – TECHNICAL TERMS are undefined, unclear, or complex.
    3c – VAGUE: The question is vague because there are multiple ways in which to interpret it or to determine what is to be included and excluded.
    3d – REFERENCE PERIODS are missing, not well specified, or are in conflict.

  4. PROBLEMS WITH ASSUMPTIONS: Determine whether there are problems with assumptions made or the underlying logic.
    4a – INAPPROPRIATE ASSUMPTIONS are made about the respondent or his/her living situation.
    4b – ASSUMES CONSTANT behavior: The question inappropriately assumes a constant pattern of behavior or experience for situations that in fact vary.
    4c – DOUBLE-BARRELED question that contains multiple implicit questions.

  5. PROBLEMS WITH KNOWLEDGE/MEMORY: Check whether respondents are likely to not know
    or have trouble remembering information.
    5a – KNOWLEDGE: The respondent is unlikely to know the answer.
    5b – An ATTITUDE that is asked about may not exist.
    5c – RECALL failure.
    5d – COMPUTATION or calculation problem.

  6. PROBLEMS WITH SENSITIVITY/BIAS: Assess questions for sensitive nature or wording, and for bias.
    6a – SENSITIVE CONTENT: The question is on a topic that people will generally be uncomfortable talking about.
    6b – A SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE response is implied.

  7. PROBLEMS WITH RESPONSE CATEGORIES: Assess the adequacy of the range of responses to be recorded.
    7a – OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS that are inappropriate or difficult.
    7b – MISMATCH between question and answer categories.
    7c – TECHNICAL TERMS are undefined, unclear, or complex
    7d – VAGUE response categories.
    7e – OVERLAPPING response categories.
    7f – MISSING response categories.
    7g – ILLOGICAL ORDER of response categories.

Things to pay attention to when testing the questionnaire.