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Open-ended questions are questions that do not provide participants with a predetermined set of answer choices, instead allowing the participants to provide responses in their own words. Open-ended questions are often used in qualitative research methods and exploratory studies. Qualitative studies that utilize open-ended questions allow researchers to take a holistic and comprehensive look at the issues being studied because open-ended responses permit respondents to provide more options and opinions, giving the data more diversity than would be possible with a closed-question or forced-choice survey measure. This entry expands on the many benefits of open-ended survey questions before examining the steps to writing well-constructed open-ended questions.

Advantages of Open-Ended Questions

A survey asking for a closed-ended response (e.g., “agree” or “disagree”) may ...

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