There are several steps involved in developing a survey questionnaire. The first is identifying what topics will be covered in the survey. For Pew Research surveys, this involves thinking about what is happening in our nation and the world and what will be relevant to the public, policy makers and the media. We also track opinion on a variety of issues over time so we often ensure that we update these trends on a regular basis so we can understand whether people’s opinions are changing. See How do you decide what questions to ask in your polls for further information.
In election years, for example, many of our questions are focused on asking about people’s voting preferences, the candidates and their personal characteristics, issues important in the election and other topics that may arise during the course of the campaign (see Election Polling for more information). The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press also conducts a weekly survey about people’s interest in, and attentiveness to, major news stories (see the News Interest Index for more information), and we routinely ask people about their knowledge on a issues. Lastly, we conduct surveys on the media consumption and political values of the American public, as well as other special topics.
At the Pew Research Center, questionnaire development is a collaborative and iterative process where staff meets to discuss drafts of the questionnaire several times over the course of its development. After the questionnaire is drafted and reviewed, we pretest every questionnaire, and make final changes before fielding the survey.