The comparison between open-ended and closed questions can be analyzed by definition, type of data collected, depth of data collected, and usability. By definition, closed-ended questions allow the participants to give a limited set of responses, often through a one-word answer. Closed-ended answers are usually generated through multiple choices, ordinal, interval, and ratio questions with explicit opinions for a respondent to choose from (Zhou, Wang, Zhang and Guo, 2017). Open-ended questions, on the other side, allow participants to write individual responses through free form answers. Open-ended questions usually give the respondent room to elaborate on the answers giving details and deeper insights using the subject’s knowledge or feelings.
Open-ended questions collect qualitative data, while closed-ended questions collect quantitative data (Desai and Reimers, 2019). Qualitative data in the open-ended questions are used to obtain an understanding of underlying opinions for consumer behavior as they allow one to speak more than just feelings and ideas. Closed questions quantitative data give generalized conclusions based on statistical analysis. The data collected in the open-ended questions are subjective, while data collected by closed-ended questions are unambiguous and offer a clear direction.
The depth of data collected in the open-ended questions is quantifiable, thus used as a primary source, while data collected in closed questions are used as a secondary source. Data obtained from open-ended questions analyses trends and patterns, while closed-ended questions data is used to determine the error rate as results can be compared among users. Open-ended questions are used in exploratory research as the respondent includes more explanation, thus better access to the subject’s proper understanding of an issue. In contrast, closed-ended questions are used in surveys where statistical significance is derived from the responses. Open-ended questions are used where answers are in the form of opinions is required, while closed-ended questions are used where answers needed are to exact.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Open-Ended Questions
Open-ended questions give detailed information as it allows an infinite number of answers through the expression of feelings and attitudes. Open-ended questions clarify the respondent’s insights through expression by own words; thus, researchers better access the feedback provided (Zhou, Wang, Zhang and Guo, 2017). Open-ended questions cut down on respondent’s bias as there is no definite answer; instead, they express themselves.
Open-ended questions are time-consuming due to the lengthy time given to respondents to answer the questions. Open-ended questions provide data that is difficult to analyze and interpret. The data requires an expert to analyze and give meaningful opinions; thus, it is subject to bias as the answers are analyzed depending on one’s opinion. The respondents’ data captured by open-ended questions is subject to irrelevancy due to the freestyle answering of questions.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Closed-Ended Questions
The advantages of closed-ended questions are built upon the limited options given. They are more comfortable and quicker to answer as they are easily understood, thus saving time. The respondents choose from answers from predetermined options; thus, the data is easy to compare where many persons are involved. Closed-ended questions improve the consistency of responses highlighted by the predefined answers (Desai and Reimers, 2019). Closed-ended questions reduce ambiguity thus are better understood as the answers provide clarity to the questions. The questions are prerequisites for respondents answering sensitive questions.
The disadvantages of closed-ended questions are that they can suggest options to respondents through the limited choices given. The questions do not give detailed information hence making it challenging to extract opinions from the surveys. Misinterpretation of the questions is difficult to identify as the respondents can answer the questions even with little knowledge.