2.1.11 Pre-testing the questionnaire (or pilot survey)
Before final form of the questionnaire is adopted it is desirable to carry out a preliminary experiment on a sample basis. When questionnaires are to be distributed on a large scale, it is absolutely essential to pre-test them. There are many avantages of pre-testing the questionnaire, such as:
1. The investigator can find out what are the drawbacks of the questionnaire, i.e., which questions ought to be edited/revise and which more ought to be added.
2. An idea can be formed about the extent of non-response likely to be expected.
3. Greater co-operation of the informants can be secured. Even persons most allergic to write can, with proper inducement, be prevailed upon to answer the questions. It is the surveyor’s job to find out what these appeals are.
While pre-testing the questionnaire, it is important always to cover a cross-section of the population eventually to be surveyed. When the sample is drawn, it should be broken down into various sub-samples by taking, for instance, every tenth or every hundredth case from the entire list.
The work of pre-testing the questionnaire must be done with utmost care and caution otherwise unnecessary and unwanted changes have to introduced. Proper testing, revising and re-testing the questionnaire would yield high dividends.
If time and budget permit, a second pilot study should be undertaken on a fresh sampling of respondents to further improve the final document.