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Open Ended Questions in Research

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Open Ended Questions in Research

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Questionnaires and surveys are useful for determining the attitudes, characteristics, profiles, beliefs from a sample of people. In designing a questionnaire that focuses on open ended questions the main concern should be on determining the way the responses will be quantified.

Open ended questions are often used in research to clarify closed questions or as a means of generating ideas. In both cases it is generally assumed that the longer and more detailed the response to an open ended question the better (Graziano et al, 2000). However, relatively little is known about the effect of factors such as question wording or questionnaire design on the response to open ended questions.

There is a need to ask open ended questions when the researcher desires to probe deeper into a subject area. The use of open ended questions is more common in subjects which are relatively unrehearsed. Open ended questions are also of value, where response cannot be predicted, or maybe to the reduce potential for researcher induced bias. This method makes it possible to explore a range of ideas about a certain issue or topic.

Open ended questionnaire questions can be also be quantified but in more indirect way. "Converting raw, open ended data from large sample sizes into meaningful categories that the researcher can utilize to quantify the results presents a challenge" (Culp, 1998). Several strategies can be used to convert these responses into meaningful information. Using qualitative data analysis software is rapidly becoming feasible. Using software applications that support content analysis and data linking and those that offer advanced linguistic analysis. The content-analysis applications allow an analyst to assess the number of times a participant uses a particular word or phrase in written material or transcribed remarks. By counting the frequency of words and noting the association of certain words, one can categorize themes and concepts. By thus "quantifying" the...