Rating Scales are a type of survey question (or statement) that is commonly used in surveys. They are useful because they allow comparison of responses from one question to another. Rating scales contain "Values" that allow report calculations and "Labels" to define the scale item for interpretation and to make answering easier for respondents.
- The Rating Scale window is the place where regularly used survey scales can be created and stored ready for use in surveys.
- To create a new Rating Scale, click on the "+ New Rating Scale" button at the top of the page.
- Rating Scales can be copied by clicking the Copy button and then renamed and edited.
- Click the Edit button to edit a Rating Scale. Note: editing a Rating Scale that is being used in a survey will change the rating scale in that survey. However, the rating scale will not be changed in any launched projects.
- Rating Scales can be deleted by clicking on the delete button. A warning message and options will appear if you delete a Rating Scale that is used in a survey.
The Rating Scale Window
Using Rating Scales in Surveys
When creating surveys that contain Rating Scale type survey questions, a list of Rating Scale options will be available to select when adding survey content. A "Default" Rating Scale can also be selected for a survey. When a project is launched, a copy of the entire survey, including the rating scales is made. After a project is launched, editing or deleting the Rating Scale in the Rating Scales Workspace or in a survey does not change the Rating Scale in the project.
Principles for developing Rating Scales
The underlying principles for developing a rating scale are:
- The meaning of each scale item should be easy to interpret
- As much as practical, each scale point should have the same meaning to all respondents
- There should be enough scale points to differentiate respondent opinions
- The scale responses should be reliable. If the same question was asked again, at the same point in time, the respondents should provide the same answer.
- The points in the scale should be consistent with the primary principle of the scale (i.e. don't mix up unrelated teminology)
Two key questions about rating scales are:
1. How many options to include in the scale?
In most situations, five or seven point scales work best and are reliable. Typically, we prefer five point scales unless questions specifically require greater differentiation. Five point scales provide valid data and are easier for respondents to complete.
2. How should the response options be labelled?
Our recommendation is to label each response option with words that clearly define what each point means. Words are better than just numbers for several reasons. For example, if you provide a range of 1 to 5 without labels, then what does each number mean to the respondent. Additionally, labelling the first and last number in a scale, without labelling the numbers in between, still creates the issue of what the middle numbers mean.
Avoid complex scales
We also recommend avoiding overly long or complex response options. The objective is to allow respondents to answer in a way that differentiates without providing too many points where the scale becomes difficult to answer or overly complex.
Consider a balanced scale
Consider using a Balanced Scale which gives responents an equal number of response options around a mid point. Balanced scales allow respondents to select a neutral response rather than forcing responses that do not match how they feel. An example would be:
- Strongly disagree
- Strongly agree
Provide an option for respondents who do not have enough information to answer
We recommend providing a scale option for those who may not be able to answer. Examples include "Don't know" or "Not applicable" or "Prefer not to answer". Perhaps the respondent has had no experience with the specific question being asked. Don't force them into making a choice without relevant information.
Tips for creating rating scales
- Mostly, 5 point scales will be suitable
- Label each scale item
- Provide a Don't Know option
- Number response options from low to high (e.g. Strongly diagree = 1 and Strongly agree = 5)
- Use odd numbers and create a balanced mid point
- Space the scale options as evenly as possible to cover the full range intended
- Do not use too many scales. A single scale can work well, be easy for respondents and also be easier to analyze.
Rating Scale examples