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IDProjectCategoryView StatusLast Update
16159Bug reportsOtherpublic2021-03-29 14:53
Reporterf_funke Assigned To 
Status acknowledgedResolutionopen 
Product Version3.22.15 
Summary16159: incorrect data structure for multiple choice question
DescriptionWhen using multiple choice question type, only checked checkboxes are saved in the data set (value "Yes [Y]"). This leads to the problem that when analyzing multiple choice questions (e. g., with R or SPSS Statistics) you can only count how many people checked a response. But when analyzing a multiple choice question you always need the number of people who saw a question but did not check a response (e.g., percentage of yes vs. no). The current implementation becomes really problematic if you have to deal with incomplete data sets (which is almost always the case) or when subquestions are not shown to all respondents (because of filtering/conditions).

Imagine a survey with three multiple choice options. SQ1 is visible for all participants, SQ2 is conditionally visible only if SQ1 was checked and SQ3 was visible for all.
Now we have four participants:
- id 1 checked Q1, saw Q2 but did not check it, and checked Q3
- id 2 checked Q1, saw and checked Q2, but did not check Q3 (item non response)
- id 3 saw Q1 and Q3 but quit participation on that page (break-off)
- id 4 saw Q1 and Q3, did not check any of the options but submitted the survey (lurker)

The current data structure looks like this:

id | Q1_SQ01 | Q1_SQ02 | Q1_SQ03
1 | Yes [Y] | | Yes [Y]
2 | Yes [Y] | Yes [Y] |
3 | | |
4 | | |

So when just looking at the data set, you don't know which respondent saw which subquestion and chose to answer it or not. This really makes analyses and reporting very difficult and can easily result in wrong interpretation of data. Especially id 3 is hard for analyses (keeping real nonresponse and no answer because a subquestion was not shown apart).

To avoid these problems, the data set must look like this:

id | Q1_SQ01 | Q1_SQ02 | Q1_SQ03
1 | Yes [Y] | No [N] | Yes [Y]
2 | Yes [Y] | Yes [Y] | No [N]
3 | | |
4 | No [N] | | No [N]
TagsNo tags attached.
Complete LimeSurvey version number (& build)4.1.18
I will donate to the project if issue is resolvedNo
Database & DB-Versionn/a
Server OS (if known)
Webserver software & version (if known)
PHP Versionn/a


related to 16157 acknowledged multiple choice option "other" cannot be selected without entering a text 
related to 16158 acknowledged checkbox for multiple choice option "other" is not saved in data set 




2020-04-20 11:46

developer   ~57262

As illustration of data structure is not that readable above:
grafik.png (9,745 bytes)   
grafik.png (9,745 bytes)   


2020-04-20 11:56

developer   ~57266

And in the ideal data set you would also find a code for people who did not see a subquestion:
grafik-2.png (4,235 bytes)   
grafik-2.png (4,235 bytes)   


2020-12-29 17:54

manager   ~61285

See related issues


2020-12-30 13:04

developer   ~61315

so see

However, the issue with data structure reported here and in
is a little different.

In any case, please keep the data perspective in mind. I know that changes in the response table require a lot of work and not all users will recognize these efforts. But the lack of a well-structured raw dataset is in my eyes a big flaw for those who want to do serious online research.

Issue History

Date Modified Username Field Change
2020-04-20 11:42 f_funke New Issue
2020-04-20 11:42 f_funke Status new => assigned
2020-04-20 11:42 f_funke Assigned To => cdorin
2020-04-20 11:42 f_funke Relationship added related to 16157
2020-04-20 11:43 f_funke Relationship added related to 16158
2020-04-20 11:46 f_funke File Added: grafik.png
2020-04-20 11:46 f_funke Note Added: 57262
2020-04-20 11:56 f_funke File Added: grafik-2.png
2020-04-20 11:56 f_funke Note Added: 57266
2020-12-29 17:54 cdorin Assigned To cdorin =>
2020-12-29 17:54 cdorin Status assigned => acknowledged
2020-12-29 17:54 cdorin Note Added: 61285
2020-12-30 13:04 f_funke Note Added: 61315
2021-03-10 22:19 ollehar Priority none => normal
2021-03-29 14:53 c_schmitz Severity partial_block => feature
2021-03-29 14:53 c_schmitz Product Version 4.1.18 => 3.22.15