75th Anniversary Issue of Public Opinion Quarterly features “Questions for Surveys: Current Trends and Future Directions” by Nora Cate Schaeffer and Jennifer Dykema

The 75th Anniversary Issue of Public Opinion Quarterly features an article on questionnaire design by Faculty Director Nora Cate Schaeffer and Survey Methodologist Jennifer Dykema. In the article, titled “Questions for Surveys: Current Trends and Future Directions,” the authors begin with a look back at the field to identify themes of recent research that they expect to continue to occupy researchers in the future. As part of this overview, they characterize the themes and topics examined in research about measurement and survey questions published in Public Opinion Quarterly in the past decade. They then characterize the field more broadly by highlighting topics that they expect to continue or to grow in importance, including the relationship between survey questions and the total survey error perspective, cognitive versus interactional approaches, interviewing practices, mode and technology, visual aspects of question design, and culture. Considering avenues for future research, they advocate for a decision-oriented framework for thinking about survey questions and their characteristics. The approach they propose distinguishes among various aspects of question characteristics, including question topic, question type and response dimension, conceptualization and operationalization of the target object, question structure, question form, response categories, question implementation, and question wording. Thinking about question characteristics more systematically would allow study designs to take into account relationships among these characteristics and identify gaps in current knowledge.

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