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Best Practices for Reducing Bias in Surveys on Engage

Best Practices for Reducing Bias in Surveys on Engage
Best Practices for Reducing Bias in Surveys on Engage
As a Zencity Engage user, it's essential to follow best practices that minimize bias and ensure the reliability of your survey results. Here are some key strategies to help you reduce bias in your surveys, complete with practical examples and detailed guidance:
1. Define Clear Objectives 
Before designing your survey, clearly define your objectives. Understanding your objectives will help you formulate relevant and unbiased questions.
    • Objective: Assess community satisfaction with local public transportation.
    • Unclear Objective: "How do residents feel about transportation?"

Guidance: Start by outlining the specific information you need. This clarity will help you avoid including extraneous questions that do not serve your survey's purpose.
2. Use Simple and Neutral Language 
The language you use in your survey questions can significantly impact the responses. Use simple, neutral language that is easy to understand.


  • Complex: "To what extent do you find the current fiscal policies implemented by the municipal government efficacious?"
  • Simple: "How effective do you think the city's current financial policies are?"

Guidance: Test your questions on a small, diverse group to ensure they are easily understood. Avoid slang, technical terms, or complex sentence structures that might confuse respondents.

3. Avoid Leading Questions

Leading questions suggest a particular answer and can bias responses.


  • Leading: "Don't you agree that the new park is a great addition to the community?"
  • Neutral: "What is your opinion of the new park?"

Guidance: Review each question to ensure it does not contain words or phrases that imply a correct answer. It's often helpful to have someone unfamiliar with the survey objectives review the questions for potential bias.

4. Provide Balanced Response Options

When offering multiple-choice answers, ensure the options are balanced and cover the full spectrum of possible responses.


  • Unbalanced: "How satisfied are you with our service? (a) Very satisfied (b) Satisfied (c) Somewhat satisfied"
  • Balanced: "How satisfied are you with our service? (a) Very satisfied (b) Satisfied (c) Neutral (d) Unsatisfied (e) Very unsatisfied"

Guidance: Include a neutral option to capture respondents who do not have a strong opinion. Ensure each response option is distinct and mutually exclusive.

5. Be Mindful of Question Framing

How you frame a question can influence responses.


  • Biased Framing: "Do you support the policy that aims to reduce crime by increasing police presence?"
  • Neutral Framing: "What is your opinion on the policy to increase police presence in the community?"

Guidance: Frame questions without implying a correct or preferred answer. Avoid words with positive or negative connotations that might sway respondents' opinions.

6. Include Demographic Questions Carefully

Demographic questions can provide valuable context but should be included thoughtfully.


  • Instead of asking: "What is your race?" at the beginning.
  • Ask: "Could you please provide some demographic information? (Optional)" at the end.

Guidance: Place demographic questions at the end of the survey to avoid influencing responses to earlier questions. Ensure these questions are respectful and optional, and explain why you are collecting this information.

7. Use Open-Ended Questions Sparingly

While open-ended questions can provide rich qualitative data, they are also prone to interpretation bias during analysis.

  • Excessive: "Describe in detail how you feel about each service provided by the city."
  • Sparse: "What is one thing you would like to see improved in our community services?"

Guidance: Use open-ended questions when you need detailed feedback, but limit their number to avoid overwhelming respondents and complicating data analysis. Be clear and specific in your prompts.


By following these best practices, you can create surveys on Zencity Engage that are more likely to yield accurate, reliable, and unbiased data. This will enhance the credibility of your surveys and provide more actionable insights for informed decision-making.

If you have any questions or need further assistance with your survey design, our support team at Zencity is here to help. Feel free to contact us for expert guidance and best practices.

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