Painless Programming: Using Question Libraries and Automated Logic

The adaption of widespread internet usage worldwide has greatly simplified the administration of questionnaires. Although in-person interviews of various forms may still be popular and appropriate in some countries and for certain studies, the increased global online presence has cultivated an expanding landscape for survey research.

Respondents may be recruited over the internet from panels or by using conventional methods (telephone, mail) and asked to participate in a live survey that they complete from an internet-equipped device at their convenience – be it work, home or while on-the-go. Many surveys are not even limited to desktop or laptop usage, embracing society’s transition to mobile devices like tablets and smartphones making on-the-go respondents more accessible.

Surveys administered online have several advantages: interviewer bias is eliminated, data can be collected at rapid speeds and at low costs, and respondents can be confident in the anonymity of their responses, as well as retain a high degree of control. And for the researcher or programmer: questions can be very diverse and complex.

As the market research industry continues to advance, “automation” is on the minds of many. Automation has not only simplified the data collection process during fieldwork. You don’t have to be an expert in coding to program a questionnaire; with automation, what may have been traditionally viewed as a programming burden, is now painless.

Using AYTM’s Question Libraries

Questionnaire writing is an art, not a science. That being said, in many instances it’s good practice to develop a consistent question structure that can be utilized across other similar studies – for other products within the same brand, or maybe across multiple product lines for benchmarking purposes, for example.

Regardless, as a researcher, you may find yourself tediously programming the same questions again and again, which can lead to mistakes or other frustrations. Yet, it’s critical for those questions to be identical among various surveys, so the data can be compared. Using AYTM’s Question Libraries, you can easily locate previously saved questions that you use frequently and drag and drop them into the survey editor, saving yourself time and headaches.

For example, imagine you are a manager of a local restaurant seeking to understand the dining-out habits of your community. Four times a year, you distribute a survey among community members, and it’s imperative to your survey design that you screen for the same sample of respondents for each survey wave. Instead of trying to remember how you worded that screener each time, you can save it to your Question Library for future use:
While in the survey editor, click on the Library icon in the menu on the left-hand side of your screen. You’ll notice checkboxes populate next to each survey question.

Click on the checkbox next to the question you wish to add to the Question Library. Then, you’ll see a snippet of the question (PQ1, in this example) appear at the top of the Question Library on the right-hand side of your screen.

If you just need to temporarily save the question for quick access to clone or reorder later within the same survey you’re currently programming, leave the question there to be used when ready.

If you want to save the question for later usage in different surveys, drag the question into the Library by clicking on the grey dotted box. Then, you can name the question for easy reference later and adjust the visibility settings, if applicable (just you, your whole team).

The Question Library is also useful if you need to access commonly repeated answer scales. While you can only save whole questions—not just the scale—you can leave the question text blank, fill in the scale, and save it to your library to be used repeatedly.

To access a question from your Library in a new survey, simply click the Library icon in the menu on the left-hand side of your screen to pull up the Question Library, locate the question you want to utilize from the list of saved questions, and drop it into the survey editor by clicking on the grey dotted box and dragging it to the location you want it. In this example, the scale is now automatically populated, and the question text can be customized as needed.

If you ever want to delete a question from the Library, simply click on the question in the Library, and then hit delete.

Using AYTM’s Automated Logic

With the use of computer software and applications, researchers can easily incorporate complex skip patterns, randomized concept stimuli, and other sophisticated programming needs into their online surveys. Taking it a step further, with AYTM’s Automated Logic you will save time and mitigate logic errors – whether you are a novice or an expert researcher.

Upon familiarizing yourself with AYTM logic, you may still have some questions once you are in the survey editor. Rest assured, Automated Logic is at your aid during the entire programming process. The system recognizes that you are typing a string of logic as soon as you type a square bracket, “[“. In the example below, “[Show if” was typed into the answer field, and a list of valid logic options automatically populated to help assist the programmer. This tool will help remind you of key letters and phrases to use to reference certain questions, answers, or other criteria in your logic string.

As you continue typing in the field, the Automated Logic constantly updates itself to reflect the new information you typed. While it’s critical that you always carefully test your survey prior to fielding, the Automated Logic will also alert you to any logical inconsistencies in real-time as you are programming. Any errors will be noted in orange, and more detail is provided as you hover over the field. You know your logic strings are accurate when nothing is shown in orange, and all logic is in light grey when not hovered over.

At this stage, you can feel confident that you are using valid programming logic, but you must test your survey to ensure the logic is functioning as you desire. Like when using a calculator, you must still manually check your work to confirm everything was entered correctly, as automated logic doesn’t replace a researcher’s expertise – but, it does enhance and simplify programming.

The Takeaways

The AYTM Question Library empowers you to make surveys more consistent, professional, and compatible across your entire organization while saving you days of hard work. AYTM logic is a simple, yet powerful, way to program most surveys on the platform – covering everything from simple skip logic and piping to very advanced researcher needs, including custom variables, references, monadic survey design, groups, and more. With a series of simple language statements written in [square brackets] directly in the survey fields, you can build a tailored survey-taking experience for respondents, while keeping full control of how the data is collected and compiled for analysis. AYTM Automated Logic enables researchers to gain confidence when programming and alleviates logic inconsistencies when coupled with manual survey testing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stacey Penczak
With an insatiable appetite for literature, Stacey can often be found curled up with her cats, swooning over her latest fantasy or historical fiction obsession. When she’s not managing research projects for AYTM, this yoga enthusiast and NJ native delights in baking (& eating!) desserts, finger painting with oils, practicing archery in her backyard, and exploring the nearby riverbanks year-round.