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Chapter ch.5

SY280 Chapter Notes - Chapter ch.5: Precoding

Course Code
Nikolaos Liodakis

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Asking Questions in Structured Interviews and Questionnaires
(Chapter 5)
Open or Closed Questions?
Closed Questions
Present the respondent with a set of answers from to choose
Open Questions
Response decisions are left completely to the respondent
Difficult to convert answers to numerical data
Tend to be used in quantitative research
Open Questions
Respondents can answer in their own terms
Allow for unusual, unanticipated responses
No suggestion, so responses may expose knowledge and be more genuine
Good for exploring new or changing areas of research
Answers may lead to fixed-choice responses
Time-consuming to record answers
Answers have to be coded
If used in questionnaires, respondents may balk at the request to write long
Recording inaccuracies for verbal answers
Coding Open Questions
Data are gathered, then themes or categories of behaviour are discerned.
e.g., an open question on the legalization of marijuana might have codes
‘very hostile opposition’, ‘indifferent’, etc.
Each code would then be assigned a number, which would be recorded in a file
each time the category is encountered
oThemes or categories of behaviour are decided upon before the data are
oMay be done with fixed-response items
e.g., ‘What is your view on the legalization of marijuana? Are you
strongly opposed, opposed, neither opposed nor in favour, in
favour, or strongly in favour?’
oData may be gathered freely through open responses and sorted into pre-
set categories afterward.
oEach code is assigned a number, which would be recorded in a file where
Basic principles:
oThe categories must not overlap.

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oThe list of categories must be exhaustive.
Must cover all possibilities.
‘Other category is usually required.
oCoders should be provided with a ‘coding frame’ or ‘coding manual’ that
establishes clear rules about how codes should be applied.
Closed Questions
Easy to process answers
Standardization allows comparison of answers
Fixed responses may help clarify what the question means
Easier and quicker for the respondent to complete
Reduced bias in recording answers
No interpretation required by researcher
Loss of spontaneity and authenticity because relevant answers may be
excluded from the choices provided.
Use open questions to generate the categories.
‘Other category with open area to elaborate.
Categories cannot overlap.
Pre-test to establish appropriate and distinct categories.
Difficult to make forced-choice answers exhaustive
Pre-test to identify appropriate categories.
‘Other category can be used as a solution.
Respondents may differ in their interpretation of the wording of fixed
e.g., the meaning of ‘strongly in ‘strongly agree’
Respondents may not find a fixed response that they feel applies to them.
Large numbers of closed questions can reduce rapport in interviews but
may be appreciated after several open questions.
Types of Questions
Personal factual questions
e.g., age, occupation, number of cars owned
Factual questions about others
Can be problematic due to limited knowledge, biases, etc.
Questions about perceptions of other are acceptable.
Factual questions about entity or event
e.g., accounts of a political demonstration
Can be problematic because most people do not observe or remember
Questions about attitudes
Very common
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