Types of question

There are many different types of question you can use to get the information you need. Generally, the questions will either be open or closed. An open question allows the respondent to use their own words to answer (“What do you think are the main causes of racism?”), whilst a closed question gives pre-defined options (“Which of the following do you think are the main causes of racism: a, b, c, d”). Some advantages and disadvantages of each are listed below:

Open questions:

  • Get “rich” qualitative data
  • Encourage thought and freedom of expression
  • May discourage responses from less literate respondents
  • Take longer to answer and may put some people off
  • Are more difficult to analyse, responses can be easily misinterpreted

Closed questions:

  • Elicit quantitative data
  • Can encourage ‘mindless’ replies
  • Are easy for all literacy levels to respond to
  • Are quick to answer and may improve your response rate
  • Are easy to ‘code’ and analyse