Open versus Closed Ended Questions
Prepared by Dr. John V.
UCLA Professor of Information Studies
questions are those questions that will solicit additional information from the
called infinite response or unsaturated type questions. Note that neutral questions are merely a
subset of open questions, according to Dervin and
- How may I help you?
- Where have you
- What aspect are you
- What kind of
information are you looking for?
- What would you like
to know about [topic]?
- When you say
[topic], what do you mean?
- What do you mean by
- What further clues
can you give me?
- What examples can
you give me?
- What is it you want
to know about?
- How will you use
- How will this information help you?
- What will it help you do?
- Where did you read
or hear about [topic]?
- Tell me how this problem arose.
- What happened that got you stopped?
- What are you trying to understand?
2. Closed ended questions are those questions, which can be answered
finitely by either “yes” or “no.” Also
known as saturated type questions. Examples:
Can I help you?
May I help you?
Can you give me more information?
Can you describe the kind of information you want?
Can you give me an example?
Could you be more specific?
Are you looking for [topic]?
Would you tell me more about [topic]?
Would you explain [topic]?
Is there something specific about [topic], you are looking for?
Created: 7/5/2002; SOURCE: Based in part on reclassifying some examples from Jennerich and Jennerich
(1987), p. 14; Ohio Reference Excellence (2000), p. 8; and Dervin and Dewdney (1986), p. 509.