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Surveys can be an effective tool for gathering information from library users and assessing library services, yet the quality of the survey questions can make all the difference between a survey that is completed and one that is abandoned in indifference or frustration. The increased emphasis on user informed library assessment and the availability of free online survey tools combine to make the use of surveys very popular in libraries, but inexperienced survey writers are not typically aware of best practices in the social sciences for the format and syntax of survey question and response options. These widely used best practices are meant to ensure that survey questions are clear and understandable, produce unbiased responses in appropriate formats, and are ethical with respect to the user. Flawed survey questions may confuse and frustrate users, resulting in survey fatigue and low survey response rates, inaccurate or difficult to interpret results, and wasted time and effort for both the surveyor and surveyed. Learning best practices for writing effective survey questions will help librarians improve their survey outcomes while maintaining the goodwill of users who provide needed survey data. Survey planning and pretesting are addressed as critical components of survey development, and example "good" and "bad" questions give presentation attendees the opportunity to immediately apply the concepts discussed.
This poster was presented at the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) 2013 National Conference, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Exline, Eleta, "Good, bad, or biased? Using best practices to improve the quality of your survey questions" (2013). University Library Scholarship. 63.