Survey Development

Leader: Chara Price

Survey development is the work of creating valid and reliable quantitative measures to collect specific data from a specific population about a specific concept.  Survey development is used when a researcher needs to create a measurement tool to collect data on something that does not have an established survey, or, to use an established survey in a new population.  Surveys can also be called measurements or questionnaires.  This group focuses on quantitative surveys that collect numeric information, in comparison to qualitative surveys that collect words or narratives. Survey development draws on the field of psychometrics for theory and technique of valid and reliable surveys. This group will focus on current orientations to survey development- classical test theory, item response theory, and structural equation models- and key concepts- validity and reliability.  Validity asks and tests if a measure accurately measures what it is suppose to measure.  Reliability asks and tests if the measure consistently measures what it is suppose to measure across times and respondents. 

While the term survey development is used to discuss the statistical processes that occur to provide evidence that your survey can contribute valid and reliable data, the term survey design will be used to discuss the broader process of conducting research using surveys that can indirectly influence your survey development, from writing clear objectives for the survey to selecting the response type and soliciting feedback on survey instructions.  

Survey design and development is important to a range of fields (economics, education, business) and applications (research, evaluation), and there are similarities and differences across these to be aware of. 

Texts and Articles:

AERA, APA, NCME (2014). Standards for Educational & Psychological Testing. Washington, DC: AERA Publications.

Millsap, R. (2013). Statistical Approaches to Measurement Invariance. New York, NY: Routledge.

Online Resources:

Psychometrika, the official journal of the Psychometric Society:

Overview of Measurement:

Pew Research Center on Questionnaire Design:


Have a question?  Post it to the Survey Development forum here