UCL WIKI

UCL Logo
Page tree
Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

Key Considerations

  • Most text answers are entered as either ‘Generic text’ (with a maximum length of 255) or ‘Long text’ (with no maximum length).

  • The text answer 'Other' is used when the question asks for writing in additional responses to those included in the question.

  • Where a numeric answer requires a unit or other qualifying information, it should be added as a text answer. For example, ‘Give your height in centimetres’ is a number, whereas ‘Give your height’ is a text answer as the unit needs to be specified in the answer.

  • Maximum length matters so ‘Other (max length: 30)’ is different to ‘Other (max length: 200)’.

Text answers are used when a response to a question is alphanumeric, i.e. a free text space. Most text responses are not specifically labelled and there are three non-specific answers which are used in almost all questionnaires, 'Generic text', 'Other' and 'Long text' (see Non-specific text answers). Specifically labelled text answers are created when a question defines a maximum length for an alphanumeric response. Numeric responses that are not sufficiently defined to allow a numeric answer are also entered as text answers.

 Non-specific text answers

 The first three text answers in the table below are used in almost all questionnaires:

Label

Type

Format

(Maximum characters)

Usage

Generic text

Text

255

Free text responses that are less than three full page lines in length. 

Other

Text

255

Free text responses that ask for additional responses to those included in the question.

Long text

Text

Blank

Free text responses that are more than three full page lines in length.

Generic text [X]

Other [X]

Text

255

Used when a question has more than one response of the same type. As many additional answers are created as are required by the question, i.e. Generic text 2, Generic text 3.

Generic text

This is the most common text answer. It is used for alphanumeric answers where the space available for the question response is less than three full page lines in length.

Example 1 Questionnaire: BCS Educational (Teacher’s) Questionnaire

Questionnaire layout:

 

 Long text

This answer is used for alphanumeric answers where the space available for the question response is more than three full page lines in length, e.g. for comments, explanations, etc.

Example 2 Questionnaire: BCS Parental Interview Form

Questionnaire layout:

 

If there are exactly three full page lines available for a question response, either ‘Generic text’ or ‘Long text’ may be used at the discretion of the enterer.

Note: Questions that are phrased ‘Space for any additional comments you would like to make’ (common in ALSPAC), or similar wording, are entered with a ‘Long text’ answer, regardless of how much space in the questionnaire is given for the response.

Other

‘Other’ is used for text answers where respondents are asked to add alphanumeric responses in addition to those already contained in the question. An ‘Other’ text answer is used only if the question contains a designated space for writing in a free text response. If the question does not contain a designated space, an ‘Other’ text answer should NOT be added to the question response domain. This is the case even if the 'Other' response wording contains ‘please describe’, ‘please tick and describe’, etc.

Typical phrasing in questionnaires where an ‘Other’ text answer is entered include:

  • Other please describe ………………………….
  • Other please tick and describe ……………………………
  • Other namely ………………………….
  • Other [item] …………………………
  • Other [item] please describe ……………………………
  • Other [item] please tick and describe …………………………………
  • Other (What? …………………………….)
  • Other [item] What? …………………………….
  • Something else ……………………………………
  • Someone else ………………………………………..
  • Somewhere else ……………………………….
  • Elsewhere ……………………
  • Anything else please tick and describe ………………..

Multiple Generic or Other text answers

A question can have more than one text response of the same type. However, a particular text answer can be entered only once as a response to a question. Additional text answers required for the same question are created by adding a number to the basic text answer label. See examples.

For a question providing four response spaces, the text answers would be:

Label

Type

Format (Maximum length)

Generic text

Text

255

Generic text 2

Text

255

Generic text 3

Text

255

Generic text 4

Text

255

Specifically labelled text answers

Specifically labelled text answers are created when a question defines a maximum length for its alphanumeric response. Unlike Numeric answers, a particular number of blank boxes for writing in a numeric response can be treated as defining a maximum value.

Examples

Label

Type

Format

(Maximum length)

Usage

NHS number

Text

10

In BCS questionnaires a specified number of spaces is indicated for entering the NHS number. See example.

Local Authority Code number

Text

3

In NCDS questionnaires a specified number of spaces is indicated for entering the Local Authority Code number. See example.

Child’s Code number

Text

6

In NCDS questionnaires a specified number of spaces is indicated for entering the Child’s Code number. See example.

Guess

Text

1

In ALSPAC questionnaires the respondent is instructed to fill in the letter ‘G’ as response to question ‘Guess?’. See example.

Code

Text

4

In SWS questionnaires brand codes are used in collecting data about food types in the Food Frequency section of the questionnaires. See example.

Letter [X]

Text

1

In NSHD questionnaires the respondent is asked to fill in three letters for the functions in a prior question that they think are the most important in getting a good job. See example.

Insufficiently defined numeric responses

Occasionally a specifically labelled text answer is created if a response which would ordinarily be entered as a  numeric answer is not sufficiently defined for a numeric answer to be used, i.e. when units are not indicated. When this occurs a text answer is created using the label that would have been used if it was a numeric answer.

Examples

Label

Type

Format

(Maximum length)

Usage

Temperature

Text

255

Question asks for temperature (of room, in winter, etc) but does not specify the measurement to be used, e.g. Fahrenheit, Celsius. See example.

Age

Text

255

Question asks for age in years and months but does not specify format of response. See example.

  • No labels