Questionnaire:

A questionnaire is a form prepared and distributed to secure responses to certain questions. It is a device for securing answers to questions by using a form which the respondent fills by himself. It is a systematic compilation of questions that are submitted to a sampling of population from which information is desired.

Questionnaire rely on written information supplied directly by
people in response to questions. The information from questionnaires tends to fall into two broad categories โ€“ โ€˜factsโ€™ and โ€˜opinionsโ€™. It is worth stressing that, in practice, questionnaires are very likely to include questions about both facts and opinions.

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Types or Forms of Questionnaire:
1. Structured Vs. Non-structured Questionnaire: A structured questionnaire contains definite, concrete and directed questions, whereas non-structured one may consist of partially completed questions or statements. A
non-structured questionnaire is often used as the interview guide, which is non-directive.

2. Closed form Vs. Open form
The questions that call for short check responses are known as restricted or closed form type. They provide for marking a ‘ yes or no’ short response. It restricts the choice of response for the respondent.

The open form including open end or unrestricted type of questions calls for a free b response in the respondent’s own words. No clues are provided. It probably provides
for greater depth of response.

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Characteristics of a Good Questionnaire:

1. A good questionnaire deals with a significant topic so that it enthuses respondent to give response. Its significance is carefully stated on the questionnaire itself or on its covering letter.

2. It seeks only that data which cannot be obtained from the resources like books, reports and records.

3. It is as short as possible, though comprehensive and clear enough for securing all the essential information.

4. It is attractive in appearance, neatly arranged and clearly duplicated or printed.

5. It contains directions which are clear and complete. Important terms are clarified and each question deals with a single idea in unambiguous terms, so that it is valid and reliable.

6. Items are arranged in categories to ensure easy and accurate responses.

7. The questions are objective, with no clues, hints as to the responses desired. Heading questions are carefully avoided.

8. Questions are presented in good psychological order proceeding from general to more specific responses.

9. Double negatives and putting two questions in one question are also avoided.

10. The questions carry adequate number of alternatives.

11. It is easy to tabulate and interpret, based on a preconstructed tabulation sheet and a visualised final analysis of data.

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Advantages:
1. As an instrument of data collection the questionnaire has great potentialities when
it is properly used.

2. It is economical both for the sender and for the respondent in time, effort and cost.

3. It is easy to plan, construct and administer.

4. When the subjects of the study are scattered far and wide, it will be a better tool as compared to the tools like interview. It permits nationwide or even international coverage.

5. It permits group administration and is adaptable to any objectives.

6. It is generally regarded as dependable when used to obtain statement of fact.

7. Information of a personal nature often may be obtained more readily by means of questionnaires.

8. It places less pressure on the subject for immediate response.

9. It helps in focusing the respondent’s attention on all the significant items. It does not permit much of variation.

10. It may be used as a preliminary tool for conducting indepth study later on by any
other method.

11. The responses given by the subjects are available in their own language and version.

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Limitations:

1. Its reliability and validity is low. It seeks secondary information concerning facts when primary evidence is not at hand.

2. Frequently questionnaire research constitutes simply a pooling of ignorance. It is compilation of the opinions of many persons who may not know the answer.

3. It gives a biased sample. The matter of non-response is always a big question mark.

4. The respondents who return the questionnaires may not constitute a representative section of the entire group.

5. If the subject misinterprets a question or gives an incomplete or indefinite response, nothing can be done.

6. A questionnaire is more or less rigid in its structure about complex emotional subjects.

7. Some respondents may not like to put their views on controversial issues in writing.

8. The behaviours, gestures, reactions, emotions of the respondent remain unnoticed.

9. Some of the research areas are so delicate, sensitive and confidential in nature that it becomes difficult to frame questions on them.

10. The questionnaire cannot be used with illiterate subjects and children.