Designing quality survey questions

Designing Quality Survey Questions addresses challenges such as language preferences for standard demographic questions (e.g. How to ask about gender), creative question design to keep respondents engaged and avoid survey fatigue, web-based survey formats, culturally-responsive survey design, and factors that influence survey responses (memory, social desirability, etc.).

Numerous examples of questions illustrate each identified principle of question construction. 

This resource and the following information was contributed by Alice Macfarlan.

Authors and their affiliation

Sheila B. Robinson - University of Rochester, USA, Custom Professional Learning, LLC
Kimberly Firth Leonard - Oregon Community Foundation

Key features

This book covers considerations before drafting a survey, including understanding the purpose and audience of your survey; developing survey questions and response options, including avoiding common problems and designing special purpose and sensitive questions; and knowing when a survey is ready for use, including pretesting strategies and survey instructions. The appendix also includes a survey design checklist, and there are currently two chapters available for free on the Sage website: Chapter 1: WHY Quality Surveys and Quality Questions Matter and Chapter 4: Sourcing and Crafting Questions.

The book includes numerous examples of practice and discussion questions, practice exercises ('design drills') and further reading lists.

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

I plan on reading through the book to get a better understanding of the theory behind survey design and how this is applied in practice, and using the checklist when I next go to a design a survey (and imagine it will save me a lot of time agonising over question wording).

Why would you recommend it to other people?

Like most of Sheila Robinson's work, this is a really easy read that gives really good practical guidance. 


Robinson, S. B. (2018). Designing Quality Survey Questions. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2018.