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Verifying Survey Items for Construct Validity: A two-stage Sorting Procedure for Questionnaire Design in Information Behavior Research

Naresh Kumar Agarwal

ASIST 2011 Annual Meeting 
New Orleans, LA, October 9-12, 2011


Abstract. Construct validity refers to the degree to which inferences can legitimately be made from the operationalizations in a study to the theoretical constructs on which those operationalizations were based. When both convergent and discriminant validities are satisfied, construct validity is said to be satisfied. Verifying survey items for construct validity becomes important, especially when these items are self-developed and not based on questionnaires used in past studies. Yet, there is lack of clarity on how to go about doing so. While researchers in other fields have come up with simple techniques, these have not been readily applied to the field of information behavior. Using the case of questionnaire design for source choice in information behavior, this methodological paper describes the use of a 2-stage sorting procedure based on Moore and Benbasat's 1991 work. The procedure can serve as a guide to researchers using questionnaire design for studies in information seeking behavior and should help lend greater rigor to such studies.

Keywords. Construct validity, sorting procedure, unstructured sorting, structured sorting, convergent validity, discriminant validity, source choice, information behavior, context.

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