Steps in validating a survey instrument

by  |  09-Nov-2014 11:16

Development of a valid and reliable questionnaire is a must to reduce measurement error.

Groves (1987) defines measurement error as the "discrepancy between respondents' attributes and their survey responses" (p. Development of a valid and reliable questionnaire involves several steps taking considerable time.

Systematic development of questionnaires is a must to reduce many measurement errors.

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The researcher in defining variables should be aware of the need for circumspection in use of contentious terms such as ‘race’ (see Terminology section) and to recognize the dynamic nature of ethnicity-related concepts, as well as the socio-political contexts in which they are developed.“This will ensure the scientific validity of the research question and will allow research findings to be evaluated within the context of continuously changing scientific and societal conceptions of these definitions” (Fisher, Hoagwood, Boyce, Duster, Frank, Grisso, Levine, Macklin, Spencer, Takanishi, Trimble, & Zayas 2002; Fisher & Wallace 2000).

Most published North American studies base their measures of diversity on categories of race but, as Fuller (Fuller 2003) notes, lumping together into a group large numbers of individuals who share little in terms of phenotype, culture, and/or behaviour inhibits reaching appropriate solutions, with progress being made when the issue of health disparities is reframed as one of phenotype/environmental mismatch. 2004) quantified misclassification of birthplace data for Asian cancer patients in the Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry in northern California by comparing registry birthplace information with self-reported birthplace from interview, and then identified sociodemographic and hospital characteristics associated with birthplace completeness and misclassification. Among US-born Asians, those misclassified as foreign-born were more likely than those correctly classified to prefer a non-English primary language.

In a review of 748 research studies conducted in agricultural and Extension education, Radhakrishna, Leite, and Baggett (2003) found that 64% used questionnaires.

They also found that a third of the studies reviewed did not report procedures for establishing validity (31%) or reliability (33%).

Consideration must be given to the questions posed and the answer categories and scales used, and how to reduce any bias in the survey.

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