Achieving Reliability and Validity in Survey Research open ended questions

Achieving Reliability and Validity in Survey Research

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Introduction

Reliability and validity are both concepts used to evaluate the quality of research. Reliability reflects the extent to which the results of the research can be reproduced when repeated under the same conditions. Validity reflects the extent to which the results of a research measure what the study was meant to measure. 

It is often quite a tedious task to obtain accurate, reliable, and valid assessments of public opinion. When creating surveys using survey software, it is important to have an understanding of the subtle relationships between questions, and how these relationships can influence how the questions are perceived by respondents. It is also important to have an understanding of the techniques using which questions can be produced to be reliable and valid. 

In this piece, we are going to explore the various concepts and methods one must keep in mind while designing public opinion questionnaires to ensure that they are reliable and valid. 

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Reliability

Psychometrics literature outline two key types of reliability, each with a different kind of consistency in responses:

    • Consistency in Responding Over Time
    • Consistency in Responding to Similar Questions 

Reliability as Consistency in Responding Over Time

Consistency in responding across time, also known as test-retest reliability, is evaluated by observing the degree of association between responses at two different time points. If respondents are asked the same question at different time points and the correlation is 0.9, that would indicate temporal stability and reflects that the survey has good test-retest reliability.

Reliability as Consistency in Responding to Similar Questions

The second type of reliability-related consistency is known as internal consistency and refers to the consistency in responding across similar items. It is measured using a statistic known as alpha (α), which is the percentage of variance in an unmeasured variable that is measured by the shared variation between component items. If α (the reliability coefficient) is 0.8, for instance, this would indicate a variance of 80%. 

Validity

When exploring validity in research, we will look at it from two different perspectives:

    • A Psychometrics Perspective
    • A Survey Research Methods Perspective

Validity from a Psychometrics Perspective 

From this perspective, validity focuses on how explicitly a survey question can be linked to the researcher’s purpose for conducting the study. For a valid questionnaire to be developed, questions must be clear, specific, and concrete so as to obtain responses that allow the researcher to meet their goal. 

Validity from a Survey Research Methods Perspective

Survey methodologists are concerned with the validity of questionnaires from a different perspective. Their focus is on the subject of the survey so that clear and unambiguous questions can be created. There are three basic principles that compose the design of survey questions:

The researcher must have a deep understanding of the research topic and must develop the research idea in a systematic and logical way before the survey is created using a market research software.

The questions must be clear and unambiguous and must reflect the research idea.

The survey must be pretested to ensure the questions are clear, unambiguous, and are clearly linked to the research idea.

Achieving Reliability and Validity in Survey Research open ended questions

Exploratory Research Guide

Conducting exploratory research seems tricky but an effective guide can help.

A Methodological Approach to Reliability and Validity in Surveys

The survey methodological approach to creating surveys that are reliable and valid contains a few key elements:

Turning Ideas into Public Opinion Questions 

Be it any kind of survey – offline, online or a CATI Survey. It is important to ensure that the data obtained through the survey research is an accurate reflection of the topic of interest. To achieve this, survey questions have to be understood by all respondents consistently, in the way the researcher intended for the question to be interpreted. 

Question-Wording and Sentence Structure

Another pivotal consideration when creating public opinion questionnaires is regarding question-wording and sentence structure. Questions with words that indicate extreme positions can elicit extreme responses.

Respondent’s Task

It is important to also consider the cognitive tasks the respondents will face when confronted with a survey question. To understand these tasks, researchers can use traditional and cognitive methods of pretesting to establish the reliability and validity of survey questions. 



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FAQs on the Reliability and Validity of Studies

In research, reliability focuses on the consistency of a measure while validity focuses on the accuracy of the measure. Both these concepts are used to evaluate the quality of a research study.

The two kinds of consistency required to achieve reliability in a questionnaire are consistency in responding over time and consistency in responding to similar questions.

When taking a methodological approach to creating reliable and valid survey questions, you must focus on the following elements;

  • Effectively Turning Ideas into Public Opinion Questions
  • Question-Wording and Sentence Structure
  • Pre Testing for Identification of Respondent Tasks

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Get market research trends guide, Online Surveys guide, Agile Market Research Guide & 5 Market research Template

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