open-ended question

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open-ended question

a type of question in a QUESTIONNAIRE in which the respondent's choice of answer is not prestructured but left entirely free. Analysis of open-ended questions is obviously less straightforward than for FIXED-CHOICE QUESTIONS, which can be pre-coded. However, open-ended questions have the advantage, of not imposing a frame of reference on respondents (see MEASUREMENT BY FIAT).

For this reason they may be preferred to fixed choice questions in some contexts and by some researchers (e.g. as an adjunct to PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION or in the early exploratory stages of research), and can be used alongside fixed-choice questions as appropriate. see also SOCIAL SURVEY.