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Building a question bank

The need for coordinating survey guidelines has been emphasized in numerous high-level meetings over the last decade. To foster harmonization and improvement of data collection methodologies, the IHSN supports task forces and experts who work on assessment and help improve existing methods. The IHSN also maintains a Question Bank, which is a central repository of indicators, classifications, concepts and questions, and reference materials. It provides international guidelines on survey design and indicator calculations from various international sources; it does not contain any data or actual survey questionnaires (for questionnaires, please visit the IHSN Survey Catalog). The Question Bank application was developed by IHSN; maintenance of its content is a collaborative effort between IHSN member agencies and partners. Question Bank content is derived from two main sources:

  • Existing survey guidelines, produced by various agencies or expert groups
  • Guidelines developed by or for the IHSN
Project status: Open
Sponsor(s): World Bank Development Grant Facility, Grant No 4001009-06, administered by the PARIS21 Secretariat at OECD and DFID Trust Fund, managed by the WB-DECDG
Implemented by: WB-DECDG and IHSN Secretariat; with IHSN consultants to support the development of the XML schema and Question Bank Editor and User Interface
Type of output: Open-source software (including an XML schema, a specialized editor, and a user interface application), and online repository of guidelines for the design of survey questionnaires (the IHSN Question Bank).


  • An XML schema that borrows from the DDI and SDMX metadata standards was developed for the Question Bank.
  • A Question Bank software application was developed in PHP with a MySQL database. The objective is to publish this application as open-source software.
  • The IHSN Question Bank itself, which is a central, searchable repository of guidelines related to questionnaire design, provides model questionnaires, recommended questions, definitions of concepts and indicators, classifications, and many other materials obtained from multiple sources.