[open-science] Markup language for questionnaires

Stian Håklev shaklev at gmail.com
Sun Nov 23 23:44:06 UTC 2014

In my work with educational research, I often encounter questionnaires. I
wonder if anyone know about existing or propose markup-languages for
writing questionnaires? I did a bit of searching, but found only some
academic papers and some mentions of heavy XML frameworks from the 1990's -
nothing that looked very current or useful.

My eventual vision would be to have something very light-weight, perhaps
Markdown-based, and be able to generate both web and paper questionnaires.
(I don't know if there's any good questionnaire websites that have APIs for
ingesting or importing question setups?)...

The second step would be able to automatically generate some R code, for
example, to parse the incoming data from the web questionnaire service. I
like Google Forms, but I always end up having to write a bunch of boiler
plate, to change field names, convert things to ordered factors, etc. I
should be able to specify in the questionnaire markup file that something
is an ordered factor (like a Likert-type Not at all, somewhat, neutral
etc), and get the data cleanup for free...

Another advantage of a simple text-based format is that it would make it
much easier to share and fork, diff etc questionnaires. There is a huge
amount of standard questionnaires in educational science, for example, but
many of them are encumbered with Copyright and high fee payments. And even
if they are not, you are likely just to get them as PDF and having to
retype them. I'd love a Github repo full of open sourced validated
instruments for testing for example physics knowledge, and being able to
fork one these, make a few changes, and right away see what has been
changed, generate paper and online questionnaires, automatically clean up
the data etc...

So yeah, lot's of ideas. I'd love to hear if anyone else finds this
interesting, or if you could point me in the direction of people who are
already working on this kind of stuff.


http://reganmian.net/blog -- Random Stuff that Matters
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