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Questionnaire Development and Testing

We work with eye-tracking, user tests, and cognitive interviews

The Questionnaire Development and Testing (QDT) Hub is a team of researchers and methodologists at NatCen who specialise in designing and testing questionnaires and other survey materials. 

Our expertise has enabled the creation of new and improved questions which are able to capture respondents’ opinions more efficiently and, as a result, improve the validity of gathered data.

We also have experience in testing a range of documents, such as ballot papers, information leaflets and web forms, to ensure make sure they are suitable for each target audience.

Our researchers are specialists in their fields, ensuring better questions - which means better data.


Our team structure

  • We have a core team of experienced survey interviewers who have also specialised in cognitive interviewing techniques, operating in locations throughout the UK. All of our core team receive ongoing training by our researchers to ensure consistent, outstanding research quality.  


How can we help you?

  • Writing questionnaires. Survey questionnaires are great methods for gathering large amounts of quantitative data on a desired topic - and a well-designed questionnaire is fundamental in ensuring that the study yields useful, reliable findings. If you're not sure how to measure something, our experts can provide you with the advice you need. 
  • Testing questions with members of the public; before running a survey, we can test your questionnaire and advance documents, to assess their ability to measure the topic effectively
  • Investigating questionable survey findings. Sometimes survey questions might not capture a concept accurately; this might be due to the wording or order of questions. These problems might lead to collection of data that does not offer a truthful representation of the population. We can work with you to establish whether your data is robust, or whether it has been subject to measurement error. 
  • User-testing of websites and materials: the methods we specialise in are useful tools in user-testing of websites and advance documents too. High-quality material elicits higher, informed response. We can help you tailor your material to your audience as survey respondents often range on a variety of dimensions, such as age, education and ethnicity.
  • Training and consultancy; we regularly provide this on questionnaire design and cognitive testing, to a wide range of academics and research practitioners from a variety of sectors. This includes advice on survey mode, designing questions that minimise the risk of mode-effects, and advice on cross-cultural and cross-national questionnaire design and testing. 


Methods we use

  • Desk reviews: During the first stage of testing, a desk review is conducted. Questions and materials are assessed both individually and as a whole, to appraise wording, order and instructions. 
  • Cognitive interviews: Cognitive testing is a frequently used qualitative method at the Hub. It uses purposive samples, which are designed to reflect the range and diversity of the population of interest, rather than to be statistically representative. This means that cognitive testing cannot estimate the extent of an issue but rather explore the nature of an issue. 
  • Focus groups and expert panels. A focus group is a qualitative methodology in which a group of people are asked about their views, attitudes and opinions on a topic, eliciting discussion.
  • Eye-tracking and mobile testing. Eye-tracking is a high-precision, quantitative method that registers people’s gaze and produces heat-wave maps. This allows researchers to check which areas respondents focus on and for how long, helping to understand patterns of response bias.


Examples of our questionnaire development & testing work

Electoral Commission - cognitive interviews, user-testing and eye-tracking

National Survey for Wales - desk review and cognitive testing

National Travel Survey - user-testing

Shelter - cognitive interviews for a telephone survey

Our clients have included the Department for Health, the Department for Transport,  the Office for National Statistics, the National Institute of Health Research, and third-sector organisations including Shelter and Marie Curie Cancer Care. 


Contact us

For more information about working with our QDT experts, get in touch with us or today.

  • Polling station

    Read about our work

    How we helped the Electoral Commission to overcome issues of voter confusion on the ballot paper:

    Read more