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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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6

THE STRUCTURE OF OPEN-ENDED AND CLOSED SURVEY ITEMS

So far, we have discussed the basic form of requests for an answer, but often, they are placed in a larger textual unit called a “survey item,” which consists of an entire text that requires one answer from a respondent (Saris and de Pijper 1986). Andrews (1984) defined a survey item as consisting of three different parts of text or components, namely, an introduction, one or more requests for an answer, and a response scale. Molenaar (1986) uses quite similar components. In this chapter, we propose distinguishing even more components of a survey item. First, we will describe the components and thereafter, we will present different structures of survey items for open and closed requests. The structure of batteries of requests for an answer, such as those using stimuli or statements, will be the topic of Chapter 7. We close this chapter with a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the different forms of open-ended and closed survey items.

6.1 DESCRIPTION OF THE COMPONENTS OF SURVEY ITEMS

Figure 6.1 shows the basic components of a survey item. The reader should notice that we make a distinction between parts embedded in the request for an answer as discussed before and parts that can be juxtaposed before or after the request for an answer.

In our opinion, the following parts can be added: an introduction, a motivation, information regarding the content, information regarding a definition, an instruction of the respondent, ...

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