Planning questionnaires

What is a questionnaire? Also called a survey, a questionnaire is a research instrument consisting of a series of questions and other prompts for the purpose of gathering information from respondents. In the context of engagement, a questionnaire can be a useful tool to guide participants into commenting on areas which can be influenced.

When do we use a questionnaire? Most likely use of questionnaires is when we want to gather feedback from a large number of people who have a fairly high interest and medium influence. Note: It would be useful here to refer back to the stakeholder analysis in your engagement plan.

If stakeholder interest is likely to be high then a questionnaire is a sensible way of capturing information. A questionnaire is also a good way of capturing feedback on options that have already been identified. Questionnaires are often used in the final stages of an engagement process when options have been developed in collaboration with stakeholder groups and now need to be tested.

Objective of the questionnaire

When planning the questionnaire, the objectives of your engagement are a good starting point:

  • What will the results of the engagement influence?
  • What do you want to find out?

Specifying exactly what information is to be collected is key to devising a successful questionnaire. Think about the potential participants: questions may need to deal with the concerns of those directly affected by the issue as well as those indirectly affected. For example: a proposal to limit the number and size of snapper fish caught on any one outing by recreational fishers may seem to affect only those who go recreational fishing. But there will be wider stakeholder groups with an interest such as service providers dependent on these fisherman for their livelihood.

Some examples of Questionnaires used for public consultation are:

There have also been a few online submission forms hosted on for public consultations.

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