[open-science] Markup language for questionnaires

Laura James laura.james at okfn.org
Thu Nov 27 18:40:16 UTC 2014

Hi Stian,

You might want to ask the Open Education working group:
http://education.okfn.org/ There's a lot of practice out there for learning
materials and tests, and the mooc and online learning communities have a
mix of proprietary and openly shared standards and systems. The Open
Education folks probably have useful connections to the open side of it all!

Best regards,


On 23 November 2014 at 23:44, Stian Håklev <shaklev at gmail.com> wrote:

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