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Design, Evaluation, and Analysis of Questionnaires for Survey Research, 2nd Edition by Irmtraud N. Gallhofer, Willem E. Saris

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3

THE FORMULATION OF REQUESTS FOR AN ANSWER

So far, we have discussed the distinction between concepts-by-postulation and concepts-by-intuition (Chapter 1). We also studied the way basic concepts-by-intuition used in survey research can be expressed in assertions (Chapter 2). In this chapter, we will continue with the discussion of how assertions can be transformed into requests for an answer.

While the choice of the topic of requests and the selection of concepts are determined by the research goal of the study, the formulation of questions or requests for an answer, as we call them, provides much more freedom of choice for the designer of a questionnaire. A great deal of research has been done on the effect of different ways in which requests are formulated (Schuman and Presser 1981; Billiet et al. 1986; Molenaar 1986). Also, a considerable part of the literature is devoted to devise rules of thumb for the wording of survey items (Converse and Presser 1986; Dillman 2000). On the other hand, relatively little attention is given to the linguistic procedures for the formulation of requests for answers in the survey literature.

Therefore, in this chapter, we will discuss different procedures to transform the assertions, discussed in the last chapter, into requests for an answer. In doing so, we make use of a large body of research in linguistics, especially Harris (1978), Givon (1984), Weber (1993), Graesser et al. (1994), Huddleston (1994), Ginzburg (1996), and Groenendijk and Stokhof ...

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