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Encoding

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Edited by: Published: 2008
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Encoding information is the cognitive process through which experiences are translated into memory. However, for the social sciences, encoding often means the process of translating thoughts, ideas, or questions into words. Different phrases and words, definitional and connotative frameworks may conflict given different audiences and contexts. In survey research, the encoding of widely understood and definitive meaning into a question is essential to valid measurement. Researchers must be cognizant of how different groups will interpret (or decode) their questions. A strong survey instrument ensures that the researcher and the respondent share the same understanding of both the questions asked and the answers given. Compounding problems emerge when a respondent is conditioned by the survey questionnaire or must choose between response options with similar meanings.

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