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Encyclopedia Entry

Open-Ended Question

James H. Frey

Open-ended questions, also called open, unstructured, or qualitative questions, refer to those questions for which the response patterns or answer categories are provided by the respondent, not the interviewer. This is in contrast to closed-ended or structured questions, for which the interviewer provides a limited number of response categories from which the respondent makes a selection. Thus, respondents can provide answers to open questions in their own terms or in a manner that reflects the respondents' own perceptions rather than those of the researcher. This type of question works well in face-to-face interviews but less well inmail, electronic, ortelephone interviews. The open-ended question is effective particularly when phenomenological ...

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