Solutions to common design problems

Critical rules and questions

Critical rules and questions designate conditions under which an interview may be completed. The questionnaire author declares such conditions in the Designer tool, and subsequently the headquarters user decides on what action Survey Solutions will undertake with these conditions before the interview can be completed (see types of actions below). Most users will find the critical questions feature straightforward to use: if a question is declared critical in the Designer, then it must have an answer at the time of completion.

June 5, 2024

Mandatory (required) questions

A respondent may refuse to answer a particular question, may not know the answer, or, perhaps, a family member may be unavailable for answering - these are common situations during the interviewing process. Every once in a while our support team is receiving questions on how to designate a question “required”, so that the interview may not proceed unless this particular question is answered. The justification could be that the answer is critically important to determine subsequent trajectory through the questionnaire: eligible/non-eligible for interview, treated/controls, etc.

June 5, 2024

Text substitution

In Survey Solutions it is possible to design questionnaires that use text substitution, denoted with an identifier enclosed in percentage signs, like so: %varname%. In other software this may be known under the term “text piping”, “answer piping”, “text propagation”, etc. The common situations when you may want to use this are: mention an answer collected earlier; display a calculated result; display reference values, etc. For text substitution it is important what may be substituted in, and where a substitution may be used.

January 24, 2020

Randomizing order of questions

In this example we will consider similar questions (all of them categorical single-select) rating different aspects of the stay in a resort hotel. Our objective is to present the questions in different order for different respondents. Our other objective is to avoid pre-programming sequences of questions, as this is tedious and creates questionnaires with just a few sequences of questions. We will rely on the following Survey Solutions elements: text substitution (text-piping) with the whole question text being substituted; random value to make the sequences of questions differ for different respondents; shuffling algorithm, we will use D.

July 17, 2017

Alternatives to Date Type Question

A date type question requires three components of the date to be specified: year, month, day. If any of them is not known, the interviewers may not enter the other ones, even if they are known. When this is not acceptable, date type question should not be used. Instead consider one of the following alternatives: Three separate questions; Patterned text question, with pattern specified as ####-##-## Categorical question with year-month combinations, such as: 2016-September 2016-October 2016-November 2016-December 2017-January 2017-February 2017-March 2017-April

April 20, 2017

Replacement strategies

Every sample-based survey is subject to non-response either for the reason of refusal or problems of locating the household: household has moved, person died, address recorded incorrectly, etc. Whichever is the reason, it must be properly reflected in the interview result code - a categorical variable set by the interviewer to indicate the outcome of the visit to the household. Survey Solutions doesn’t do sampling. A sampling specialist should perform sampling for your survey.

April 10, 2017

Selecting a person

For random selection refer to this article. Here an example of determined selection is discussed. Consider you wish to select a child attaining the lowest grade, with selecting younger children to break the ties. We define selname as a string variable: selname=PERSONS.Where( p=>IsAnswered( && IsAnswered(p.age) && IsAnswered(p.grade) ).Where( p=>p.age.InRange(5,15) && p.grade.InRange(1,98) ).OrderBy(p=>p.grade).ThenBy(p=>p.age).First().name Note that if there are two or more children of the same age and grade exist in the same household, then the one entered first will be selected.

February 23, 2017

Formatting Text

Question texts and static-texts can be formatted with a series of html tags. The html tags that can currently be used in Survey Solutions are described in this article. Line break Use <br> to insert a line break. Use <br><br>…<br> to insert multiple empty lines. Italic Use <i> to begin the use of italics. Then, use </i> when you want to discontinue the use of italics. Underline Use <u> to begin the use of underline.

June 22, 2016