Questions & Answers
by Wesley R. Elsberry,
Questions & Answers is a general utility for entering the results of
surveys into a computer. It uses a text file to represent the questions
and possible responses on the survey, allows the user to select a
response on-screen, and saves information to a comma-delimited text file.
Comma-delimited text files can be imported into a great number of analysis
programs, including spreadshseets and statistical packages.
Questions & Answers comes with NO WARRANTY. All risks of use
are borne by the user.
The program can be freely downloaded, in either 16-bit
for Windows 3.1 or 32-bit
for Windows 95/NT formats. Personal use is free. Researchers
publishing results obtained from data entered via Questions & Answers
are required to list use of the program and its authorship in acknowledgement
in the publication. (When I have a publication available, this program
will become Citation-Ware.) Commercial entities are required to arrange
licensing with the author.
How to use Questions & Answers
32-bit Questions & Answers is written in Delphi 2.0, and runs under
Windows 95 or Windows NT. It is recommended that it be placed in
its own directory, such as "C:\Program Files\Questions and Answers".
It can be launched from the "Run" selection on the Start Menu, or by double-clicking
its entry in Windows Explorer.
Making a Questions File
Questions & Answers uses a text file to display questions and answer
choices. Such a text file can be made using NotePad, WordPad, or
any word processing package that allows files to be saved as plain ASCII
text. The format of the text file is that each question gets its
own line, the colon ( : ) is the separator character, the first text becomes
a caption, and the rest of the text items are listed as answer choices.
Questions & Answers automatically adds two answer choices, "Missing"
and "Other", to each question. "Missing" is to indicate that the
respondent did not make a selection on that question on the survey, while
"Other" allows the entry of a different tag value via a text editing field,
labeled as "Other Text". Let's take an example survey question, and
see how it might turn into a line in the Questions file.
3.5 Do you believe that the situation described is dangerous?
That question can be represented by the following lines:
a) Strongly Agree
e) Strongly Disagree
3.5 Dangerous Situation?:a:b:c:d:e
3.5 Dangerous Situation?:SA:A:U:D:SD
3.5 Dangerous Situation?:Strongly Agree:Agree:Undecided:Disagree:Strongly
The first two lines will save responses as "a", "b", "c", "d", or "e".
The second two lines establish different tag values for saving responses.
For statistical tests using non-numeric values, the actual tag values make
no difference, but using tags that are meaningful may help in user validation
of data entry.
One may want to add other lines to the Questions file to prompt for
other related information, such as the survey number if all surveys were
enumerated either on sending or when received. It is important, though,
that only one Questions file be used without change when entering the data
from a survey, so that all entries use the same tags, and the number of
questions does not change throughout.
Once the Questions file has been generated, data entry can begin.
From the File menu, select Open Questions. A dialog box will pop
up, allowing browsing to find the Questions file. Once selected,
click "OK". The top "Questions and Answers" memo box will be loaded
with the text of the Questions file that was selected, and the first question
will be displayed in the radio button group box on the right. Clicking
on a radio button causes the selected tag value to replace the original
question text in the memo.
When the "Next on Click?" check box is checked, the next question will
automatically be brought up after an answer is selected, after a brief
pause. Using the "Back", "Next", or spin edit controls will caused
the "Next on Click?" check box to be unchecked.
If "Other" is clicked, whatever is in the "Other Text" edit box will
be used as the value of the answer put into the memo box. This means
that the "Other Text" edit box should be used to enter a value before
clicking the "Other" radio button.
Other information can be entered ad lib into the bottom memo box.
Each line becomes an item which is appended in the record written to the
An answer recorded in the top memo box can be edited. This is
useful if certain survey answers are not mutually exclusive, such as a
"circle all that apply" type question. In that case, the first circled
answer could be clicked in the radio group, and then the remaining selections
entered into the memo box along with that answer.
Once all the answers from one survey have been entered, they can be saved
to a file. Go to the File menu, then select "Save To". A dialog
box appears. A file can be selected, or a new file name typed in.
The answers are then output as one line of comma-delimited text to
the selected file. Existing files are appended to. When the
save operation is complete, the memo fields are cleared and the current
question file reloaded into the top memo field, ready to begin entry of
another set of answers.