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The Response Process, part 1: Encoding (or If I Don’t Know, I Can’t Answer)

The Response Process, part 1: Encoding (or If I Don’t Know, I Can’t Answer)

I’m trying to keep this blog as practical and non-academic as possible, but one thing I learned at school that I still apply in every questionnaire I write was the Response Process Model, developed by Tourangeau, Rips, and Rasinski:

 

Encode –> Comprehend –> Retrieve –> Map –> Report

Each of these phases is critical to getting quality data, so today I’m kicking off a 5-part series where I’ll discuss each step of the process—and give examples of where I’ve seen it break down.

The first phase of response is almost a “pre-phase,” in that it happens before the respondent even sees a questionnaire.  Encoding is the process of being aware of what has happened.  Before I can answer a question about something, I need to know that I’ve done it.

The Response Process part 1 Encoding

For example, I had a food client who wanted to know how often people consumed different nutrients. They suggested the following question:

Please indicate how much of each of the following nutrients you consume in a typical day.

Vitamin C
Less than the recommended amount, About the recommended amount, More than the recommend amount

Vitamin A
Less than the recommended amount, About the recommended amount, More than the recommend amount

Iron
Less than the recommended amount, About the recommended amount, More than the recommend amount

Vitamin D
Less than the recommended amount, About the recommended amount, More than the recommend amount

Niacin
Less than the recommended amount, About the recommended amount, More than the recommend amount

Jessica