6 Tips for Effective Screener Writing

Writing an ineffective screening tool can undermine the entirety of your research. A participant screening tool, often referred to as a screener, is a written set of questions recruiters read verbatim to the prospective respondent on the phone to determine if they meet the requirements needed to participate. A screener that does not properly filter or “segment” the respondents correctly can lead to research held with the wrong individuals, jeopardizing the outcome of your research. To avoid these missteps, here are 6 tips you can utilize to ensure effective screener writing.


Include an Introduction

Due to importance and the potential impact small variations of the writing on the screener, recruiters should be reading screeners verbatim. To let recruiters know how you would like to introduce the research, an introduction should be written.


We all know how out of control spam calls have gotten in recent years, so the introduction should make it clear that this is not a sales call. The introduction should give the name of your organization and important aspects for the respondent such as the topic being studied, research dates, and compensation. During the opening, you want to set clear expectations for the respondent.


Include BLIND Qualifying Questions

If you merely ask yes/no questions in your screener, you are not qualifying respondents. Blind questions mask what the study is seeking. Say for example you are conducting a toiler cleaner study, be sure to mask toilet cleaner among other similar cleaning supplies. So, ask if they frequently use Laundry Detergent, Stainless Steel Cleaner, Soft Scrub, and… Toilet Cleaner. The confidence that your respondent uses toilet cleaner is greater as compared to asking yes/no questions.


Call Center employee on laptop


Be Careful about Repetitive Questions

Respondent participation has been on a decline since 2020. While there are several factors attributed to this decline, the length of project screeners is a contributor.

While it is paramount to capture the desired segment, becoming redundant with questions will cause respondent disinterest and time will be wasted.


Use Simple, Clear Language

The screening instrument is disseminated to various recruiters throughout the world. Ensuring the screener is simple and clearly  in a language that is familiar to all will make the project more successful.

Throughout recruitment, recruiters can speak with hundreds of people. Whether the question is pertaining to a large concept or a simple question about the respondent’s background, the screener must be written and read in a way that can be understood by all humans. When using scales, state simple directions and stay consistent on what the ratings or numbers reflect.

Marketing Meeting Notebook


Variate Question type

When the screener gets long, the respondent can lose interest. When the screener is repetitive, this problem is only exacerbated. Not only does this contribute to issues with the show rate, but the respondent may get into a pattern with their answers that may not truly reflect their feelings, which can compromise the validity of your research. To prevent this, change the type of questions being asked or put in an “articulation question” or another type of open-ended question to keep the respondent engaged.


Keep Efficiency in Mind

Your screener must be designed not only around your intended goal, but for efficiency as well. Write questions likely to disqualify the participant early in the screener as to not waste time speaking with respondents that aren’t likely to qualify.


In summary, without writing an effective screener, the validity of your research can come into question. Observation Baltimore’s Management staff proactively addresses potential issues in your screening tool,  ensuring your project is recruited just to your liking. To get more information on how Observation Baltimore can assist your research, email our Client Services Manager, Pete at pete@obaltimore.com!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 6th, 2023 at 11:00 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.