Survey Guidelines

Open-Ended Questions

Two aspects of open-ended survey questions are addressed in this contribution. The first aspect is the fielding of such questions: When, and for what purpose, are they useful? Who answers such questions, in the first place? And what should be taken into account when developing and designing open-ended questions? The second part of the article shows possible ways of evaluating open-ended questions. These include content analysis, which has a long tradition in the evaluation of open-ended questions. In addition, computer-supported, dictionary-based content analysis plays a major role as it is especially suitable for the analysis of responses to open questions because they are, as a rule, short and limited by the context of the question. Co-occurrence analysis, which can yield an overall picture of the responses, is a relatively new way of evaluating open-ended questions.

English-language version (73 kB)

Version 2.0; doi: 10.15465/gesis-sg_en_002

Slides english-language version (532 kB)

Slide set summarizes the main statements of the paper; it can be used for teaching purposes.

German-language version (235 kB)

Version 1.1; doi: 10.15465/gesis-sg_002

Earlier version: Version 1.0; doi: 10.15465/sdm-sg_002


Züll, C. (2016). Open-Ended Questions. GESIS Survey Guidelines. Mannheim, Germany: GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences. doi: 10.15465/gesis-sg_en_002