Questionnaire / Survey Design

Surveys can yield valuable information about current public opinion in a variety of arenas. The accuracy of the survey results depends in large part on how representative the sample is of the population of interest. Statistical analyses can address this question. Weighting of certain groups may be necessary if they are not represented adequately in the sample. Exponent’s experienced statisticians will choose the appropriate statistical analyses and communicate the results clearly and intelligibly.

For example:

Market Research — Companies can develop better products and services and effectively market them using survey results on: 


  • Consumers’ needs 
  • Shopping behaviors 
  • Consumers’ opinions of products 
  • Effectiveness of advertising 
  • What consumers are willing to pay for a product 
  • Customer satisfaction

Corporate Management can tailor management practices and design effective incentives to improve performance using employee survey results to gauge employees’


  • Attitudes 
  • Cultures 
  • Practices

Associations can better serve their members with an understanding of their:


  • Values, needs, and concerns 
  • Opinions of proposals

Litigation — Survey evidence figures prominently in cases involving:


  • Trademark, trade dress, and false advertising to assess public perceptions 
  • Patent infringement to assess the public’s value of a design element 
  • Product liability to understand how customers use the product and to apply the “reasonable consumer” test 
  • Employment discrimination cases 
  • Mass torts and class actions 
  • Jury selection can benefit from lessons learned in surveys of potential jurors

Exponent’s insightful and experienced statisticians can guide you through all phases of the survey process:


  • Design of the questionnaire or survey 
  • Survey reliability and validation 
  • Analysis and reporting of survey results

Survey Design — Careful planning of the survey methodology and thoughtful consideration of the survey instrument will increase the accuracy and generalizability of the survey results. Electronic or web-based surveys save time and increase the accuracy of data collection but may not be appropriate for certain populations. Low response rates can greatly affect the accuracy of the results, so special care should be taken to ensure good response rates—statistical methodology may be used to correct for bias due to low response rates. Exponent statisticians have experience in all these areas of design and can give sound advice on all of these survey issues:


  • Choice of administration method 
  • Selecting the sample and sample size 
  • Improving response rates and statistical correction of response bias 
  • Design of questionnaire length 
  • Optimal order of questions 
  • Open versus closed response questions 
  • Optimal choice of response categories 
  • Avoidance of loaded or leading words or questions 
  • Avoidance of confusing, ambiguous, or nonspecific questions 
  • Special attention to problematic survey topics such as sensitive (illegal or moral) issues

Survey Reliability and Validation — Evaluation and estimation of measurement errors in the survey instrument or questionnaire can be addressed through reliability and validation studies. Exponent statisticians assist in the design, administration, and evaluation of these studies. 


  • Pilot studies to ensure that subjects understand the questions and respond appropriately 
  • Design of composite scales or combinations of questions to address a complex concept 
  • Assessment of the internal reliability of composite scales (Cronbach’s alpha)

Analysis and Reporting — The accuracy of the survey results depends in large part on how representative the sample is of the population of interest. Statistical analyses can address this question. Weighting of certain groups may be necessary if they are not represented adequately in the sample. Exponent’s experienced statisticians will choose the appropriate statistical analyses and communicate the results clearly and intelligibly.

Professionals