With the broad arrival of text analysis as an increasingly mainstream analytical activity, a lot of heat is coming back on the question of how to ask more useful open-ended questions. Is there a “best way?”
Yes, there is. If traditional coding was a process of blunt word counts, then newer forms of text analysis are more about the relationships between ideas. Is this mentioned frequently in terms of that?
For that reason you get much better mileage by asking for two or three thigs instead of just one. Instead of asking; “What is the main reason for choosing brand x?” you are better to ask: “What are your reasons for buying brand x? Please give us two or three reasons.”
This approach isn’t just about driving longer answers (it may help perhaps) but is more about being able to see how ideas associate: you can start to understand the structure or architecture of the public’s mindset. A single answer “Name the main reason…” gives you lego blocks of data. A “give us two or three” type question enables you to assemble those blocks.