Piloting the Questionnaire

It’s always suggested to test the work you do before submitting it, that’s why the concept of piloting came. If I have to give a piece of advice regarding the questionnaire to a PhD scholar, then I would say, “do more piloting” before it goes live. 

What is a questionnaire?

A questionnaire is a research tool used to collect data in a study by including a series of questions. It can be categorised into qualitative or quantitative depending on the nature of the questions. The questionnaire can be carried out face to face, by telephone, computer or post.

Why pilot questionnaires?

It is very rare to have a flawless questionnaire in a very first go which has passed the three tests of reliability, validity and error testing. So, piloting becomes an integral part of making an exemplary questionnaire. It is an essential precaution regardless of the questionnaire is new or have been used before.

Take a moment to read the following tables below to know how to test the questionnaire:


  • Do the questions sound right?

Read your questions aloud as sometimes a question looks right when written, but it sounds silly when you read it.

  • Do the interviewers understand the questions?

Use of technical language and jargon can make your interviewer confuse. Then how can you expect your respondent will understand it?

  • Does the interview retain the attention and interest of the respondents throughout?

If the quality of your questionnaire is not up to the mark, then it will not retain the attention of the respondent throughout. Try to make the questionnaire interactive if it is face to face, and interesting if it is to be conducted by telephone or post. 

  • Does the questionnaire respect the privacy of the respondents?

You must make the questions highly professional which do not target the personal life of the respondents. 



  • Are the respondents able to answer the questions?

While making the questionnaire, one must keep in mind that the respondents would be able to answer the questions or not.

  • Are the provided response codes enough?

You should give proper response codes for every answer so that respondent is not forced to fit the answer.

Error testing

  • Have you rectified every mistake?

Sometimes you tend to skip some minor mistakes even after the aggressive checking of the questionnaire. So, go through your questionnaire again to correct those. 

  • Is the technology working?

If you have used any unusual or untried technology, then it must be checked

in the field. 

  • How long does the interview take?

The length of the questionnaire must be according to the rules set by the university. If it’s longer than the prescribed guidelines, then your study might run into a serious timing and budgetary difficulties.

The decision to do a pilot study might be difficult at times. Sometimes the researcher would like to skip the step as it is time-consuming and especially when the study is well planned according to the researcher. However, this step is beneficial as to avoid the unforeseen risk in the future. The investment in time and resources is generally worthwhile.

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