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The term random start has two separate meanings in survey research—one related to questionnaire item order and one related to sampling. This entry discusses both meanings.

Random Start in Questionnaire Construction

In terms of questionnaire item order, a random start means that a series of similar items (such as a set of agree-disagree questions) is administered in a way that the first question in the series that is asked of any one respondent is randomly chosen to “start” the series, and then the order of the subsequent questions is not randomized. For example, if Q23 through Q28 (six items in all) made up a set of attitude questions that use an agree-disagree response scale, by using a random start a researcher will have one sixth of the ...

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