Free-text comments to “other” responses can be insightful

If respondents check “Other” as a response to a multiple-choice question, the law firm might that sponsored the survey might take the extra step in its report to list or summarize what the respondents filled in. Mostly, however, firms do not provide that additional detail. Still, examples surfaced from three reports, each with a different treatment of “other” comments.

Davies Ward Barometer 2010 [pg. 23] categorizes a number of comments and lists them in bullet fashion. The snippet is partial, because there are three more comments on the next page.

After its pie chart, Norton Rose Infrastructure 2016 [pg. 2] states some of the comments from respondents in the 9% “Other” slice.

DLA Piper RE 2017 [pgs. 4-5] provides what the firm calls “Verbatims”. We show only three of the total of seven. It is possible that the firm edited the comments so that they read smoothly and grammatically.

Research reports strongly favor writing about or plotting the most common responses to multiple-choice questions. They like reporting the highest percentages of answers. But sometimes interesting nuances or new ideas appear as write-in comments. A report that does not disclose permit readers to peek into the “other” comments misses an opportunity to broaden the range of findings.

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