A Comparison of Cognitive Interviewing and Respondent Debriefing Methods Vis-à-vis the Study of the Adoption of Decision Support Systems by Knowledge Workers

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Emmanuel Matthew Ikart


As the vehicle for data collection, the questionnaire is a vital component to achieving a higher quality in research studies. A frequent difficulty with questionnaire design is that respondents often misinterpret the questions and this difficulty has been recognised within the literature. However, in recent years, there has been increased emphasis on building quality into questionnaire design through pretesting. A pretest study attempts to ensure this by subjecting the questionnaire to some types of evaluations to assess its ability to collect the desired data. Whether constructing a new scale or revising existing scale, through pretesting, researchers may be able to confirm whether the scale uses clear and appropriate language, has no obvious errors or omissions and has adequate psychometric properties. Consequently, questionnaire pretesting is a crucial element of a good study design. Prior to pretesting, the main contributors to diagnosing questionnaire problems were the questionnaire designers (through their expertise in the subject) and the interviewer (through their experience in administering their questionnaire. Thus, detailed reports of appropriate methods to undertake pretesting are currently underrepresented. As the first of its kind, this paper compares the results of two pretesting methods namely, the cognitive interviews and despondent debriefing with respect to evaluating a series of questions from the questionnaire developed for the study of EIS adoption factors by Knowledge Workers. We believe the protocols contribute to reducing shortfalls in pretesting guidance for researchers and practitioners. The paper is released to inform interested parties about the research and to encourage discussions on the topic.

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