Create a Question Bank

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Why a question bank?

If you think about the number of surveys that have already been conducted, you realize that there are many questionnaires out there that could be used to help you design one. As well as question banks, there are also resources for question evaluation that will help you to improve your questionnaire design. 

Some organizations show their question wording online as part of the metadata for the variable description.  For example, the Minnesota Population Center has a series of integrated public use microdata files ( These series include the IPUMS (harmonized data from censuses around the world), the Integrated Health Interview Series, the American Time Use Survey, the Integrated Demographic and Health Series, and Terra Populus (integrated data on population and the environment). 

Using DDI as a foundation for a question bank enables you to reuse metadata and to find identical and similar questions and or response sets across surveys for purposes of data comparison, harmonization, or new questionnaire development.

Tip: Some of the tools are not called question banks, however they can be searched and will list the actual questions. 


Social Science Variables Database: (located at ICPSR) 
Search over 4 million variables. 
Also able to compare questions across studies and series.

Collaborative resource for question evaluation.

American National Election Studies (ANES):
Core utility - lists out concepts/topics by category and lists the actual question
Search Utility - searches ANES Time Series study codebooks to locate questions and variables by keyword.

UK Data Service Variable and Question Bank:
Search hundreds of surveys.

Survey Data Netherlands:
Over 36,000 questions to search.


Getting started  

Let’s say you are interested in looking at youth and smoking. You want to know the types of questions that have been asked in this area.

You start by going to the Social Science Variables Database at ICPSR and type in ‘youth and smoking’.  There are 148 results returned. 

Then you select the results in which you are interested and the variables will be compared for you. The information given includes: name of the survey; the variable name; the question; the responses; the time period; and the universe. 

This particular database also has search tips that will help you to narrow your search down.


SQBL - The Simple Questionnaire Building Language:
Lightweight XML format. Compatible with DDI. 

The Canard Question Module Editor:
Cross-platform open-source  tool for the design of structured questionnaires.

Colectica - Manage a Question Bank:
Manage questions independent of the survey in which they may be used.
Create your own question banks. 

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