Optimizing Survey Questionnaire Design in Political Science

Josh Pasek and Jon A. Krosnick

in The Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behavior

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199235476
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Optimizing Survey Questionnaire Design in Political Science


This article provides a summary of the literature's suggestions on survey design research. In doing so, it points researchers toward question formats that appear to yield the highest measurement reliability and validity. Using the American National Election Studies as a starting point, it shows the general principles of good questionnaire design, desirable choices to make when designing new questions, biases in some question formats and ways to avoid them, and strategies for reporting survey results. Finally, it offers a discussion of strategies for measuring voter turnout in particular, as a case study that poses special challenges. Scholars designing their own surveys should not presume that previously written questions are the best ones to use. Applying best practices in questionnaire design will yield more accurate data and more accurate substantive findings about the nature and origins of mass political behavior.

Keywords: survey questionnaire design; political science; American National Election Studies; optimization; question formats; voter turnout

Article.  9719 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Behaviour

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