Using XML for Encoding Questionnaire Designs by t758Tn77

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									              Using XML to Encode Questionnaires

Existing Standards & Technical Implementation


                                  “The Why and How of QEDML”


Philip Cookson                                                                 Jason Sobell
Director of Research                                                           Chief Technologist
Philology Pty. Ltd.                                                            Philology Pty. Ltd.
Email: philip@philology.com.au                                                 Email: jason@philology.com.au

  Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006                     1
 About the Authors …




Philip Cookson is an internationally                                                      Jason Sobell is a professionally qualified
experienced Marketing Researcher, with                                                    software engineer and database designer
expertise in the area of Internet-based market                                            who has extensive international
research and survey automation                                                            experience as an Information Technology
technology. Philip is the Director of Research                                            consultant. Jason has a Masters Degree in
and co-founder of Philology Pty. Ltd. Philip’s                                            Information Technology from RMIT
previous industry experience include: Director of                                         University, and lectures in commercial
Server & Development Tools Business Research                                              database applications at RMIT University
at Microsoft Corporation, where he was                                                    and the University of Melbourne.
responsible for Microsoft’s global research for its
Server and Development Tools products; and
Senior Director for Global Market Research &                                              Jason is co-developer of the QEDML
Analysis with Apple Computer Inc., where he                                               standard for encoding survey
was responsible for conducting global market                                              questionnaire designs; and is the Chief
analysis and customer research relating to                                                Technologist at Philology Pty. Ltd. where
Apple's new products. Philip is a full member of                                          he is responsible for the technical
the Market Research Society of Australia, and                                             development of the QEDML product family.
has achieved QPMR accreditation. Philip holds a
Masters Degree in Mathematical Physics, and a
Post-graduate diploma in Computer Science.
   Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006                                       2
Objectives of the presentation…
• Explain the overall architectural design issues and
 technical constraints/challenges in creating an XML
 standard (QEDML) for encoding questionnaire designs
 and respondent data sets.

• Discuss the practical (operational) issues associated
 with developing a software for questionnaire design and
 deployment … using the QEDML software suite as a case
 study.

• Where relevant, contrast and compare the design
 approaches for other XML–based standards for
 questionnaire design and deployment.
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Target Audiences …




• Architects, Developers, Implementers, and “Power
 Users” of questionnaire design and deployment software
 systems.

• Those responsible for developing or deciding on
 standards for the storage, manipulation, and/or
 retrieval of questionnaires and/or respondent data sets.




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Agenda… for the next 45 minutes …
• Introduction:                        Why Standards?                               Why XML?   Why QEDML?
     –    Why a standard is needed?
     –    The benefits and limitations of using XML to encode questionnaire designs
     –    The “Why” of QEDML – QEDML “raison d’être”

• QEDML (XML) Architectural Design Principles
     –    The “How” of QEDML – QEDML Design philosophy/guidelines/decisions/compromises
     –    Developing a framework for “comparing” XML implementations

• Practical (Technical) Implementation Issues … and “Solutions”
     –    Questionnaire Design vs. Questionnaire Storage/Deployment/Data Collection
     –    Extensibility: New Question Types, Dealing with “compound” questions
     –    Managing Multi-lingual questionnaires

• Summary: Key Takeaways & Next Steps
     –    XML Design Approach; XML implementation issues, Future Directions for QEDML

• Question & Answer
     –    Question/Discuss/Debate the key conclusions and implications!

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 Why Standards?: Survey Automation Systems Design
Integrated Software Suite                                                      Integration of Point Solutions
                                                                               • Components from different vendors
• All components of the system are
                                                                                 are used as point solutions and are
 built by a single vendor and are                                                linked together via a set of
 explicitly designed to work                                                     standardized interfaces.
 together.

• PRO                                                                          • PRO
  – Seamless exchange and integration                                             – Ability to choose “Best of Breed”
                                                                                        solutions.
      of data between components
                                                                                      – Greater flexibility in vendor choice.


• CON                                                                          • CON
  – Constrained to the capabilities                                               – Requires someone to take on a
      provided by a single vendor.                                                      “systems integrator” role
  – Often impractical to enforce a                                                    – Lack of common standards for
                                                                                        data interchange (or sometimes
      single solution across a wide                                                     too many incompatible
      variety of market research survey                                                 “standards” for data/design
      settings.                                                                         interchange)
    Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006                                    6
XML:                What is it, and why is it important?

• SGML –                    Structured General Markup Language
• XML – EXtensible                                        Markup Language




    A subset of SGML constituting a particular text markup
    language for the storage and exchange of structured
    information, retaining both the content and context of data.

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Sample XML document
  <newspaper>
      <section type='headline'>
          <article id=‘ASC2005'>
                <heading> England wins ashes back from Australia </heading>
                <body>
                <paragraph>
      England’s 2-1 defeat of Australia during the recently completed ashes Test series has
      furthered England’s reputation as a cricketing nation. Noted market researcher and
      recent cricket enthusiast Randy Banks was quick to leverage this result to highlight the
      decline in the quality of Australian cricket forecasting and research skills.
                   </paragraph>
                   <paragraph>
      Australian market researcher and noted supporter of the Australian cricket team, Philip
      Cookson, who has been “hiding out” in the USA; is attending the ASC 2005 Conference
      both as a presenter and to accept the ritual humiliation that is associated with an
      English victory over Australia in any sporting event.
                   </paragraph>
                   </body>
             </article>
        </section>
  .
  .
  </newspaper>


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XML as an Information Interchange Standard
• Human readable
  – Encoded using ASCII or Unicode (multiple-language support)

• Future-safe
  – Self-documenting
  – (As long as we have the means to read the storage media)

• Extensible
  – New tags and language elements may be introduced while maintaining
        backwards compatibility

• XML documents can be validated ( DTD or XML Schema)
  – Ideal as an interchange format between organisations

• Flexible rendering tools
  – Tools such as XSLT renderers allow multiple output formats to be
        automatically generated

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XML as a standard for encoding questionnaires
  XML is an ideal means for the storage and interchange for
  questionnaire data because questionnaires…

• Consist of a tree structure (natural hierarchy)
• Implement looping and conditional sections
• Contain meta-data or attributes relating to questions and/or
  sections of a questionnaire
• Require rendering to a variety of deployment platforms and
  output document formats
• Must be retained for future access if subsequent respondent
  data is to be of long lasting value



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What is QEDML?
                                                Questionnaire
                                                Exchange, and
                                                Deployment
                                                Markup
                                                Language


QEDML        is an XML-based standard for encoding
questionnaire designs so that they can be deployed in a variety
of output formats and contexts, ranging from paper based
documents, to online tests/surveys, to structured output data
types suitable for integration into Survey Automation and
e-Learning systems.

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           QEDML Architectural Overview




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Example of a simplified QEDML snippet …
 <Element ElementType="Question" Orientation="Vertical" List=“Q1RLIST "
   Name="Q1ID" ListOrder="Normal" QuestionType="SinglePunch" >
      <QuestionLabel>Q1</QuestionLabel>
   <MainText> Which one of the following is not a right hemisphere function?
   </MainText>
    <CorrectAnswer>A</CorrectAnswer>
 …
 </Element>
 …
 <List ListType="Shared" Name="Q1RLIST">
   <Items>
       <Item Code="A"> <Text> creating a poem</Text>
       <Item Code="B"> <Text> completing a jigsaw puzzle</Text>
       <Item Code="C"> <Text> feeling sensations on the left side</Text>
       <Item Code="D"> <Text> admiring artwork</Text>
   </Items>
 …
 </List>


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QEDML Design “Philosophy”

• The key to representing, storing, and correctly
 interpreting respondent data sets is through a
 comprehensive description of the questionnaire
 design.
    – Resultant data sets can be stored as a simple table referenced via
         a unique Survey/Questionnaire ID link if there is a complete
         representation of the questionnaire design.
    – XML implementations that focus on the resultant data sets are
         missing key aspects of the design that are essential to correct
         interpretation of the results (e.g. why responses are
         skipped/missing).




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QEDML Design “Philosophy” …

• A complete questionnaire design must explicitly
  factor in the operational characteristics and
  constraints of the deployment (data collection)
  systems that may be used to field the questionnaire.
     – Must be able to accommodate the requirements of multi-modal
          deployment (Print, Web, CATI,CAPI)
     – Self-Administered vs. Interviewer Administered; Question
          sequencing (logical flow)
     – Some questionnaire design “entities” only exist during deployment
          (e.g. “piping”, “list filtering”)




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QEDML Design “Philosophy” …

• Questionnaire design is not restricted to the domain
 of market research surveys, and so a standard for
 encoding questionnaires should be flexible enough
 to adapt to the full spectrum of questionnaire design
 applications
    – Market Research Survey applications
    – Educational and/or Assessment Testing applications
    – Forms based (intelligent) data collection




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      QEDML/XML Standard

Architectural Design Requirements
QEDML/XML Standard Design Requirement … #1

• A standards based representation of a questionnaire
   design should be able to accommodate multiple
   language variants within the context of a single
   document.
     – Each “translatable” element needs to be represented as
          a distinct entity
     – The standard should support all Unicode languages
     – The translation status of each element should be
          preserved throughout the editing phase
     – “Language variants” should accommodate different
          deployment requirements (e.g. Web vs. CATI)


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QEDML/XML Standard Design Requirement … #2

• The encoded questionnaire design should be able to be
   automatically translated into any other functionally
   complete XML representation of the questionnaire
   using a simple XSLT transform.
     – All complete XML representations of a questionnaire
          design should be functionally equivalent.
     – Each element of the design must be “atomic” in terms of
          its XML representation (i.e. you should not have to parse
          the content within a pair of XML tags to extract a value).




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QEDML/XML Standard Design Requirement … #3

• The encoded questionnaire design and associated
   resultant data sets, should be able to be automatically
   translated into a wide variety of output document and
   script formats compatible with those commonly used
   for questionnaire design and deployment in market
   research, and educational testing environments.
     – Transformed using XSLT transforms, via report
          templates, or standard programming interfaces
     – For example: MS Word, PDF, Quancept Script … SPSS
          .sav, MS Excel, CSV Export etc.
     – Needs to be able to represent a “superset” of question
          data types, logical constructs, etc.

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QEDML/XML Standard Design Requirement … #4

• The standard should be flexible enough to incorporate
   the full spectrum of existing and emerging
   questionnaire data types and constructs.
     – Base data types: Number (Integer, Real); Text (Char,
          Memo); Binary (Boolean, BLOB)
     – Multimedia data types: Audio (In/Out), Video (In/Out),
          Ink, Image etc.
     – Standard question types: SP, MP, Ratings Grid, 1D and
          2D Grids; Compound Questions
     – Question constructs: Groups, Loops, Sections,
          Instruction, etc.


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QEDML/XML Standard Design Requirement … #5

• The standard should support vendor, application, and
   customer specific extensions to the standard through a
   generic “metadata” mechanism.
     – Each component of the design should be able to have an
          associated metadata tag
     – The metadata should be able to include structured
          (hierarchical) XML data




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QEDML/XML Standard Design Requirement … #6

• The standard should be capable of accurately
   representing the wide variety of hierarchical (tree-
   like), grouped, and looped (iterated) data structures
   that are found in real world market research and
   educational testing applications.
     – Sections, sub-sections of questions; Instructional (i.e.
          non-data) information fields
     – Logical groupings of questions; Iterative data structures
          (looped list)




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QEDML/XML Standard Design Requirement … #7

• The standard should be capable of accurately
   representing the logical sequencing (program logic) of
   the questionnaire.
     – Issue of how to accommodate the differences in the
          proprietary programming/scripting environments used in
          real-world survey deployment systems. Ideally, the code
          elements should be represented “atomically” in XML
          (QEDML Script)




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QEDML/XML Standard Design Requirement … #8

• The questionnaire design should be stored as a
   standard XML document (native file format), and the
   resultant data set should be defined as a standard XML
   document … though not necessarily use XML as the
   native data storage format
   (for efficiency/practicality of use).
     – Pure XML representation; Compatibility with commonly
          used formats for information storage




Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   25
QEDML/XML Standard Design Requirement … #9

• The standard should be capable of accurately
   representing the resulting data set in a complete and
   efficient manner that is compatible with commonly
   used methods for storing and reporting on respondent
   data sets.
     – Efficient = compact storage, standard retrieval for
          analytical use




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A framework for “comparing” XML Implementations
                                                                                    A            B               C
Aspect                      Feature                                          Importance     QEDML Rating   Vendor X Rating
                                                                                   (0-10)       (0-10)          (0-10)

XML Implementation          Pure XML document format
                            Atomic representation
                            Data types and construct support

Multilingual Support        Single document architecture
                            Preserve Translation Status


Multi-modal Support           …………………

Application Support            …………………

Industry Support               …………………


                             (Importance Weighted)                            TOTAL         = SUM (A *B)   = SUM (A *C)


 Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006                                    27
XML/QEDML

Practical Implementation Issues
Where the “Rubber” (of XML theory & benefits), meets the
“Road” (of developing real-world questionnaire design and
deployment software systems).
Technical Implementation: XML File Size Issues
Problem:
        XML is a verbose form of representation, and as a
        result questionnaire designs encoded in XML are
        often considerably larger than questionnaire
        designs encoded using a proprietary/binary
        format. For example, an “empty” QEDML project
        is 7 Kbytes, a standard (single language) QEDML
        survey questionnaire is 100 - 200 Kb, and a
        complex (multi-lingual, adaptive) QEDML survey
        questionnaire may be as large as 1 - 2 MB.



 Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   29
Technical Implementation: XML File Size Issues …
Solution:
  – For single-user, local-disk based questionnaire design applications,
    the XML overhead is of little practical consequence. However, for
    the implementation of networked, multi-user, questionnaire
    repositories that support the ad-hoc searching and retrieval of
    questions/questionnaires from a central repository … the overhead
    of shunting multi-megabyte survey files across the network can
    pose a potential performance bottleneck.
  – Fortunately, XML documents are amenable to “on-the-fly”
    compression and decompression of the document, which can
    dramatically reduce the overall file size. For example a 1MB QEDML
    survey questionnaire document can be compressed to 50 Kb using
    the standard WIN.ZIP utility.
  – For networked questionnaire repository systems it is often
    worthwhile to store the XML file in both raw and compressed
    formats to reduce the processing need for file compression prior to
    every transmission of the questionnaire document.

 Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   30
Technical Implementation: Multi-lingual Surveys …

                              Problem:
                                     How do you maintain multiple language
                                     variants of a questionnaire within a
                                     single document where the text
                                     associated with questions in the survey
                                     may be different “states” of being
                                     translated … while preserving the
                                     “translation” state during the
                                     questionnaire editing process.




Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   31
Technical Implementation: Multi-lingual Surveys …

Solution:
    – Need to represent and separately tag each
         translatable element of each questionnaire in
         each of the languages implemented in the
         questionnaire, along with the “Translation Status”
         of the element.
    – The Questionnaire Editor application must
         explicitly reset the “Translation Status” of all
         language variants when ever the corresponding
         default (base) language text is changed.



Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   32
Technical Implementation: Multi-lingual Surveys …
   • “Languages” may be “deployment” specific
       language or spoken/written languages




Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   33
Technical Implementation: Multi-lingual Surveys …

<Languages>
                                                                                            Default/Invariant
        <Language>                                                                            Language
                              <Code />
        </Language>
        <Language>
                              <Code>fr</Code>
        </Language>
        <Language>
                              <Code>de</Code>
             </Language>
</Languages>
 Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006                   34
Technical Implementation: Multi-lingual Surveys …

<MainText>


<LanguageStrings>
<LanguageString Language="" TranslationStatus=“Verified">
              What is your age? </LanguageString>
<LanguageString Language="de" TranslationStatus="Changed">
              Was ist Ihr Alter?</LanguageString>
<LanguageString Language="fr" TranslationStatus="Changed">
              Quel est votre âge?</LanguageString>
</LanguageStrings>


</MainText>

 Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   35
Technical Implementation: Multi-lingual Surveys …




 Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   36
Technical Implementation: Other Issues …
• Compound vs. Defined Question types … Is a GRID a
   “group of sub-questions” or a “special question type”?

• How to encode questionnaire “flow control” logic … Is it
   possible to create a “universal script” that can
   automatically generate a “logically equivalent” output
   script compatible with common survey scripting
   languages (such as Quancept Script)?

• Incorporating multi-media content in an XML encoded
   questionnaire design … What strategy to employ …
   Embedding or Referencing?

Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   37
QEDML In Action: QEDML Designer V 1.8 Demonstration




 Download: www.qedml.com.au/DOWNLOAD/ASCRSS.zip
Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   38
Next Steps … Future Directions for QEDML
• Ship QEDML Designer Version 1.8
• Complete the re-development of the QEDML Web
   Server/Portal
• Resolve the remaining technical challenges associated with
   implementing a multi-user, networked, large-scale,
   questionnaire repository.
• Encapsulate the QEDML technology into a (developer)
   “component” architecture so that can be tightly integrated
   into other applications/systems.
• Implement a complete XML based QEDML Script capable of
   being automatically transformed into a broad range of
   program/script output formats.


Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   39
Summary: The key takeaways…
1. XML is the appropriate technology for encoding
      questionnaire designs, and for defining a standard for
      encoding questionnaire designs and respondent data sets.

2. There are many practical issues/constraints associated with
      implementing an XML based standard in real-world
      questionnaire design/deployment/reporting applications
      which need to be factored into the fundamental
      architectural design of the XML standard, and of software
      systems based on the standard.

3. QEDML is a robust and complete XML implementation that
      should at least be used as a “benchmark” for evaluating
      the capabilities of other XML implementations.

Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   40
Summary: The key takeaways…
4. As an industry, we need to formally define a set of
      technical design guidelines and/or functional requirements
      for XML encoding of questionnaires/data sets, that can be
      used as the basis for developing software standards.

5. The RSS/ASC could act the driver/forum for such an
      initiative … by leveraging the skill set of a suitably
      experienced/qualified team of experts … but not via a
      “standard committee” process.




Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   41
               Questions & Answers
                                                       Philip Cookson
                                                       Director of Research
                                                       Philology Pty. Ltd.
                                                       Email: philip@philology.com.au

                                                       Web: www.qedml.com.au
                                                       Web: www.philology.com.au

                                                       Tel. +613 9 349 4735
                                                       Fax. +613 9 349 5392




Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   42
Appendix: A
Differences & Similarities between Questionnaire Design
for Market Research and Educational Testing Applications
How Educational Assessment testing is similar to the
requirements of modern Market Research Surveys
• Need to implement complex “adaptive” logic in the
   questionnaire (branching, piping, calculations).
• Need to deploy questionnaires in multiple-modes (paper
   based tests, online tests, telephone surveys etc.)
• Need to tightly control access to the questionnaire instrument
   and record responses dynamically as they are entered.
• Need to supplement/augment the responses to the
   questionnaire with other information known about the
   respondent.
• Ability to support a broad range of question input and output
   data types (text, graphics, video, interaction, etc.)
• Need to tabulate and analyze aggregate results.

 Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   44
How Educational Assessment testing differs from the
standard requirements of Market Research Surveys
• There is a concept of a “Correct Answer”, and a requirement
   to “mark or score” the assessment (using either a manual or
   automated procedure), as part of the overall
   analysis/tabulation process.
• It is often desirable to have each respondent receive their
   own (unique) version of the questionnaire (test).
• The responses to the questionnaire are normally explicitly
   linked to a particular (identifiable) individual respondent.
• There is a greater requirement for a specific respondent to be
   identified as the person having completed the questionnaire.
• The most common question type is a simple multiple choice
   (Single Punch) list (Choose One: A, B, C, D).


 Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   45
Appendix: B
Common Questionnaire Data Types & Design Tasks
Common Question Data Types
 • Open-ended (Text) questions
 • Fixed Answer (Date, Number etc.)




Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   47
Common Question Types
   • “Rating” GRIDS or 2D Numeric GRIDS




Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   48
Common Question Types
 • “Rating” or “Category” GRIDS




Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   49
Common Question Types
 • “Points Allocation” questions




Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   50
Common Question Types
  • Multi-media stimuli (especially in Web based deployments)




Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   51
Common Questionnaire Design Tasks
 • Defining and using CONSTANT values




       <CONSTANT Name='FACTOR_A'/>




Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   52
Common Survey Design Tasks
 • Mandatory Questions




Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   53
Common Questionnaire Design Tasks
    • List Filtering … “Choose All that Apply” … next … “Choose One”
      of those you just selected




•    List Filter:

     IN S4Q7 …
        NOT IN S4Q7



Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   54
Common Design Tasks
• SP option in a MP list




Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   55
Common Questionnaire Design Tasks
   • Piping … of an answer to a question … to become the text of a
        following question.




    You had selected option Code: <RESPONSE Question='S4Q3' Field='Code'/> from the
    previous question: "<RESPONSE Question='S4Q3' Field='Question'/>"
    which corresponded to the option labeled: <RESPONSE Question='S4Q3' Field='Listitem'/>.
    Why is <RESPONSE Question='S4Q3' Field='Listitem'/> your favourite colour?


Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006      56
Common Questionnaire Design Tasks
• Rotation and Randomization of SP/MP lists (with some fixed elements)




 Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   57
Common Questionnaire Design Tasks

   • Rotation and Randomization of Groups of Questions or Sections
       of Surveys




Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   58
Questionnaire Design Tasks Involving Programming

• Simple Branching based on the answer to a question




 Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   59
Questionnaire Design Tasks Involving Programming
  • Data validation … Setting Values
        – > Minimum value or < Maximum Value
        – Total must equal 100 … etc.




 Joint RSS/ASC meeting on Systems Architecture for Statistical Applications: January 2006   60

								
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