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Chapter 1
Getting Started


ACQNET Design lets you give each study a unique name. This chapter describes study-naming conventions.

Naming a Study

Study names can have up to eight characters and must begin with a letter. You may want to reserve a character or two to track the study version. Only letter and number characters may be used to define a study name. Acceptable study names include STUDY01, QUEST01, P602201, and CJ0493. For each study you define, the ACQNET Design System creates associated files, which it will use to store the questionnaire parameters, attributes, and questionnaire text.

Creating a New Study

Connect to the Conjoint Online Web Site:
In the future when you return to modufy an existing study, you will want to follow the hyperlink to the login screen. There you will be required to enter the Study name and Password.

Since you are creating a new ACA quesrionnaire, follow the link to the registration screen. At the registration screen you are required to register with Conjoint Online before creating any ACA questionnaires. Registration is necessary in order to keep track of the authors of the ACA questionnaires that are created.

[ACQNET Design Registration]

Note: We respect your privacy. The information you enter will not be sold or used for any commercial purpose.

Begin the registration process by entering your name, company, and e-mail address. Press TAB every time you have successfully entered the required information into the fields. Now you must enter a study name for the ACA questionnaire. Type a valid study name (as described in the beginning of the chapter) and press TAB. The cursor is now on the description field. Type a description of the study. For example, type: My first ACA Study and press TAB. If you do not wish to enter a description, leave the input field blank by pressing TAB to move to the next field.

After a study name and description have been entered, you must enter a password. You will need this password every time you return to ACQNET Design to make changes to your ACA questionnaire. You are allowed up to eight characters for your password, which is not case sensitive. Only letter and number characters are allowed.

ACQNET Design Main Menu

After a new study has been created the ACQNET Design Main Menu will load.
The screen displays:

[ACQNET Design Main Menu]

ACQNET Design displays the study name beneath the Compose menu of the Main Menu. We’ve used A9809 to indicate the current study in the screen shown above.

Now you are ready to begin creating your first ACA questionnaire.


Chapter 2
Creating an ACA Questionnaire


With ACQNET Design, the process of setting up a conjoint questionnaire is simple: you supply the attributes, specify questionnaire parameters, and customize questionnaire text. This chapter shows you how to create a questionnaire using the Compose menu of ACQNET Design’s Main Menu. You may follow along with the sample questionnaire created to help you learn how to use the ACQNET Design System. Our sample questionnaire is about cars. The attributes and levels for the questionnaire are:

Body Drive Configuration Color Manufacturer Price
Two-Door-Sedan Rear-Wheel Drive Red US Manufacturer $10,000
Four-Door-Sedan Front-Wheel Drive Blue Japanese Manufacturer $12,000
Hatchback All-Wheel Drive Green European Manufacturer $14,000
Station Wagon   White   $16,000
Convertible   Black   $18,000

To generate an ACA questionnaire you must supply the attributes, specify questionnaire parameters, and customize questionnaire text. Use the Compose menu options to perform these and other questionnaire development tasks. Throughout this document, the Compose menu and its options are described.

Moving Between Fields. Use the TAB key to move to the next field; use the SHIFT and TAB keys simultaneously to move to the previous field.

Selecting an Option. Use the mouse, up arrow or down arrow keys, to choose among a set of options.

Quitting without Saving. If at any moment you wish to return to the ACQNET Design Main Menu and disregard all changes, press Return to ACQNET Design Main Menu to quit without saving changes.

Exiting. Use Exit ACQNET Design of the Exit menu from the ACQNET Design Main Menu to exit ACQNET Design and return to the Conjoint Online Home Page.

The Compose Menu

The Compose menu has options for building and testing conjoint questionnaires. You define attribute names and levels with Add Attribute(s); edit, delete and view attributes with Edit Attribute, Delete Attribute and View Attributes; set questionnaire specifications with Parameters; customize ACA’s default questionnaire test with Frames; produce a questionnaire file with Compile; test your questionnaire with Test.

Specifying Questionnaire Attributes

Use the Add Attribute(s) of the Compose menu to enter attribute names, specify a priori order, and enter level text. Choose Compose from the Main Menu, then choose Add Attribute(s). The screen displays:

[Add ACA Attribute]

Attribute Fields

Name. The name field lets you assign a name to the attribute; it can contain up to 32 characters, including blanks. To enter an attribute name, type the name and press TAB.

A Priori Order. This field lets you specify whether the levels of an attribute have "a priori" (or natural) ranking. Attributes have an a priori ranking when there is a distinct rank order of preference for all (or nearly all) respondents. For example, Price has an a priori ranking because, all other things being equal, a price of $10,000 would always be preferred to a price of $12,000. In contrast, Body Type does not have an a priori ranking; not everyone prefers a Convertible to a Station Wagon to a Sedan.

Level Text. The Level Text fields let you enter attribute level descriptions exactly as you want to appear in the ACA interview. Up to two lines of text are permitted, each up to 32 characters (including blanks). After entering each line of text, press TAB. At least one line (or part of a line) of text is required for each level: levels without Level Text are automatically removed from the attribute.

Attributes for the Sample Questionnaire

We will step through the process of entering the first attribute and then let you enter the remaining attributes on your own. The chart below shows the attribute information you’ll need to set up this portion of the questionnaire:

Attribute Name: Body Type Drive Configuration Color Manufacturer Price
A Priori Order None None None None Decreasing
Levels Two-Door Sedan
Four-Door Sedan
Station Wagon
Rear-Wheel Drive
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
US Manufacturer
Japanese Manufacturer
European Manufacturer

We’ll begin with the first attribute, Body Type.

In the Name field type: Body Type and press TAB.

Type: Two-Door Sedan and press TAB, for the first line of Level Text; press TAB again since there is no second line of text for this level.

Type: Four-Door Sedan and press TAB, for the first line of Level Text; press TAB again to leave the second line of text empty.

Repeat this procedure for each of the remaining levels.

Because Body Type does not have an a priori ranking, select NONE for the A Priori Order field (this means that Preference Rating or Ranking questions will be asked for this attribute).

Press Save Attribute and Add more… to save the current attribute and continue to add additional attributes.

Continue to add the remaining attributes: Drive Configuration, Color, Manufacturer, and Price by repeating the same procedure for each of the attributes.

When the last attribute has been entered press Save Attribute and Exit instead of Save Attribute and Add more… to save the current attribute and return to the Main Menu.

Editing Questionnaire Attributes

Use the Edit Attribute of the Compose menu to edit an attribute’s name, a priori order, and level text. Choose Compose from the Main Menu, then choose Edit Attribute. The screen displays:

All existing attributes are displayed on this screen. At the right of the select list, all attributes are listed with their attribute names. Select an attribute to edit and press Edit Attribute. The following screen will display the attribute, including all of its fields (Name, A Priori Order, and Level Text).

Once all the necessary changes have been made, press Save Attribute and Exit to save the current attribute and return to the Main Menu, or press Save Attribute and Edit more… to save the current attribute and return to the Select Attribute screen shown above.

Deleting Questionnaire Attributes

Use the Delete Attribute of the Compose menu to delete an attribute. Choose Compose from the Main Menu, then choose Delete Attribute.The screen displays:

[Delete Attribute]

The Delete Attribute option of the Compose menu is somewhat similar to the Edit Attribute option. As in the Edit Attribute option, the Delete Attribute option displays all the existing attributes and on the right of the select list; a list of attributes with their attribute names. Select an attribute to delete and press Delete Attribute to delete the attribute and return to the Main Menu.

Viewing Questionnaire Attributes

Use View Attributes to view all the questionnaire attributes. Choose Compose from the Main Menu, then choose View Attributes. The screen displays:

[View Attributes]

You may view the attributes at any given moment during the development of the ACA questionnaire.

Specifying Questionnaire Parameters

Use Parameters to specify questionnaire parameters. Choose Compose from the Main Menu, then choose Parameters. The screen displays:

[Control Parameters]

Control Parameter Fields

The main portion of the Control Parameters windows contains the fields you use to specify interview parameters. An explanation of each field and its range of values follows.

Randomize Attribute Order — Preliminary Questions. In the Preference/Ranking/Rating, and Importance Rating sections, you can choose to present attributes in randomized order. To present attributes in random order, select Yes and press TAB; select No and press TAB to present them in the order they were entered. If you choose to randomize the order of the attribute, all questions asked of a particular respondent use the same random order.

Number of Scale Points — Preference Ratings. You must specify the number of points for the rating scale by entering a number of points from 2 to 9 and pressing TAB. Scales with more rating points can capture fine differences in desirability, but scales with fewer points may make responses faster and easier.

Number of Scale Points — Importance Scale. In the Importance Ratings section of the ACA interview, respondents are presented with the best- and least-liked levels of each attribute and asked how important the difference between these two levels would be. The response is made using a rating scale. To define the number of points on that rating scale, select a number from 2 to 9 and press TAB.

Number of Scale Points — Pairs. In the Pairs section, the respondent indicated whether the concept appearing on the left or the right is preferred. The preference and its strength are indicated using a rating scale. To define the number of points on that rating scale, select a number from 2 to 9 and press TAB. Scales with more categories can capture finer differences in strength of preference; scales with fewer categories may be easier for the respondent. Nine-point scales are used most frequently, particularly with self-administered interviews.

Maximum Number of Attributes in Pairs Section. ACQNET Design lets you include as many as 30 attributes, but few respondents would be willing to answer pairwise conjoint questions for that many attributes. Limiting the number of attributes will shorten the interview, but it will also reduce the number of attributes for which there are precise, rather than approximated utility values. ACQNET Design limits the number of attributes used in the Pairs section to 20 that the respondent indicates to be most important. Ties are broken randomly. To set a limit lower than 20, select a number from 0 to 20 and press TAB. If you select zero, then no Pairs questions are asked.

Maximum Number of Pairs. The ACA interview has an upper limit of 50 Pairs questions. The number of Pairs questions asked is determined by a built-in formula that insures the number of answers provided by the respondent is equal to three times the number of independent utility values being estimated. Only those attributes and levels considered in the Pairs section are counted in this formula.

Number of Attributes in First Pairs; Number of Pairs of Each Complexity; Number of Attributes in Last Pairs. In the Pairs section you can show concepts containing between 2 and 5 attributes. Most authors start with simple pairs containing only 2 attributes, and sometimes move to more complex pairs with more attributes after the respondent has become familiar with the task. In most cases it is best to limit the number of attributes in the Pairs questions to only 2 or 3 at a time: more complex pairs can be confusing for many respondents. You can use the "Number of Pairs of Each Complexity" setting to build more complex pairs gradually. For example, if you want the First Pairs to have 2 attributes and the Last Pairs to have 4 attributes, you might set the "Number of Pairs of Each Complexity" to 5. If you specified the following:

ACA would show 5 First Pairs with 2 attributes, 5 next pairs with 3 attributes, and the rest of the pairs would have 4 attributes.

Number of Calibrating Concepts. The Calibrating Concepts sections of the interview presents several concepts having up to 8 attributes each, and asks the respondent’s likelihood of buying each one if it were available. The answers are important in calibrating the respondent’s utilities. You can specify the number of concepts to be shown. The minimum number if four and the maximum number is nine. We recommend that you specify at least four concepts. Select a number and press TAB.

Number of Calibrating Attributes. You must specify the number at attributes, between 2 and 8, to appear in each calibrating concept. The attributes appearing in the concepts will be those the respondent indicates to be the most important, with ties broken randomly. The number of attributes cannot be larger than the number of attributes you choose to include in the Pairs section (see Maximum Number of Attributes in Pairs Section, above). Select a number and press TAB.

Optimal Weighting Utilities. ACA offers the ability to use Optimal or Equal Weighting when calculating final respondent utilities. Optimal Weighting weights the contributions to the utilities estimates from the initial sections and the Pairs section of the ACA interview based on responses to the Calibrating Concepts section of the questionnaire. Optimal Weighting places a greater burden on the respondent: more calibrating concepts are required than by the Equal Weighting method. Select Yes to use the Optimal Weighting method, or No to use the Equal Weighting method, and press Save Control Parameters to save the control parameters and return to the Main Menu.

Creating Questionnaire Text

ACA provides a set of pre-written (default) "frames." Frames provide the text of the questionnaire. To edit the frames file for your study, you use the Frames option.

Choose Compose from the Main Menu, then choose Frames. The screen displays:


The default frames file is already quite close to what is needed for the final questionnaire. However, you do need to change product category references to match your product category. In each frame, where there is a reference to XXXXXXXXXX replace the X’s with this sample’s product, cars. For example, the default text for the introduction screen is shown below:

Thank you for participating! This survey asks some questions about XXXXXXXXXX. You
answer by typing numbers from the keyboard.

Any time you want to go back and review a question or change an answer, just click on the
Back button in your browser.

We're going to ask you to evaluate different kinds of XXXXXXXXXX. Some of these are
offered currently, and others may be offered in the future.

In this case, replace "This survey asks some questions about XXXXXXXXXX" with "This survey asks some questions about cars." Edit the remaining frames. To save the changes press Save Frames and Exit. If you wish to start over, then press Reload Default Frames. After you have made all necessary changes to the frames press Save Frames and Exit to save the frames and return to the Main Menu.

Compiling the Questionnaire

This is the last step before running the questionnaire. Choose Compose from the ACQNET Design Main Menu, then choose Compile. ACQNET Design will then read the attributes, parameters, and frames and checks for any errors. Compile reports errors and/or warnings in the Compile Results window.

The Compile Results Window

The Compile window uses error and warning messages to point out specific problems in your questionnaire. Error messages tell you of mistakes you have made, and warning messages let you know of possible problems that you need to double check. For example, errors in the parameters for the questionnaire will include an error description. The screen displays:

[Compile Results Window]

Note: You must run Compile each time you make a change to Attributes, Parameters, or Frames.

If you have any errors, go back to the appropriate option in the Compose menu, make any changes, they try compiling the questionnaire again. Often, warnings are displayed. Be sure you understand the warning’s implications. For example, if you have an attribute with more than 5 levels, you are warned that only the five most preferred levels are used in the Pairs section. This is acceptable (which is why it is a "warning" and not an "error"). Repeat this option until the questionnaire compiles with out errors. Finally, press Return to ACQNET Design Main Menu. Now your questionnaire is ready to be tested.

Testing the Questionnaire

Use Test to run your compiled ACA questionnaire. Choose Compose from ACQNET Design’s Main Menu, then choose Test.

Every time the questionnaire is tested it saves data for the current session on the server. Returning to previous screens using the Back button in your browser will result in unnecessary files occupying server memory. If you decide to terminate the Test anywhere during the interview, then you must use Exit ACA Test, which will ensure that the proper files are deleted from the server for the current session and you will be returned to the ACQNET Design Main Menu.


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