What is the difference between self-completion and postal questionnaires?
Self-completion questionnaires and postal questionnaires introduce a type of questionnaire where respondents have to leave their answers independently. Though these two types are usually used as synonyms, there is one distinctive feature to be mentioned. The self-completion questionnaire is a more inclusive term when compared to the postal questionnaire. When it is necessary to compare these two research instruments, such inclusive term is used to prove that the postal questionnaire is the most prominent form of a questionnaire where respondents have to send their answers by post and identify a certain location of an organization they may be from.
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What are the pros and cons of the self-completion questionnaire in comparison to the structured interview?
In comparison to the structured interview where the presence of an interviewer is obvious, the self-completion questionnaire is characterized by certain pros and cons. Self-completion questionnaires are not as expensive as structured interviews regarding time and cost.
Other pros include the possibility of neglecting the interviewer’s characteristics (race or gender), combining several questionnaires at the same time, avoiding the necessity of asking additional questions, and completing a questionnaire at any time. The disadvantages may include the absence of prompts, probes, and the possibility to ask new questions, gather additional data. There is also a threat to miss data and low response rates.
Why are self-completion questionnaires usually made up of closed questions?
To succeed in designing self-completion questionnaires, a researcher has to create closed questions. First, closed questions are usually clear and understandable for respondents who do not have a chance to address an interviewer and clarify their options. Second, closed questions provide a respondent with a limited choice of possible answers. As a rule, the self-completion questionnaire already contains an answer, and the task of a respondent is to pick one. The information obtained from closed-ended questions is usually easy to gather and analyze. The processing of data may be convenient for a researcher due to the presence of certain categories.