Survey Research


Aliya Qureshi, Academic Content Writer at Edumarz.

In Survey Research, information is collected from a sample/group of participants called Respondents by presenting them with multiple questions and recording their responses.

Advantages of the Survey Method:

  • Information is gathered very quickly and from a large population of people at the same time. 

  • Survey do not take alot of time and can be conducted quickly, so, the researchers can gather public opinions on new issues almost as soon as the issues arise. 

Limitations of the Survey Method:

  • People sometimes even give inaccurate information, because they do not want the researcher to know what they are thinking and so they provide responses that the researcher expects them to give. 

The Survey Research is conducted using the techniques mentioned below:

  • Personal Interviews

  • Questionnaires

  • Telephonic Survey

  1. Personal Interview:

  • The most frequently used method to collect information.

  • It can be used in many different situations.

  • In a personal interview, two or more persons sit facing each other.

  • Generally, one of these people is the one who asks questions and is called the Interviewer.  

  • The person that answers the interviewer’s questions is called the Interviewee. Also called the Respondent.

  • Mainly, interviews are conducted face-to-face, but can also be completed over the phone. 

  • The list of questions, that is prepared before conducting an interview is known as the Interview Schedule.

  • There are two types of interviews based on the type of preparation done before conducting the interview:

(i) the questions in the interview schedule are written in a particular sequence and the interviewer is not allowed to make changes in the questions or the order in which they are to be asked.

(ii) The responses to these questions are also sometimes specified in advance(such questions are called close-ended questions).

(i) interviewer is allowed to ask flexible questions, as required in the interview.

(ii) the responses to the questions are also not pre-specified. The respondent can answer the questions, however, they prefer. (such questions are called open-ended questions.)

  • Interviews are also classified based on the number of participants in the interview situation:

  • Individual to Individual: Only 2 individuals are present, one is the interviewer and the other is the interviewee.

  •  Individual to Group: an individual (interviewer) interviews a group of participants/respondents. It is also known as a Focus Group Discussion (FGD)

  • Group to Individuals: In this situation, a group of interviewers interview one person, the respondent, like a job interview. 

  •  Group to Group: one group of interviewers interviews another group of interviewees(respondents). 

  • Characteristics of a good interviewer are:

  • Knows the skills of making the respondent feel at ease to get the right information. 

  • Is sensitive regarding the way a respondent answers and can take out more information from the respondent, if needed.

  • Tries to get clear and concrete answers from the respondent if he/she is being vague.

  • Advantages of the Interview Method: 

  • Is useful in situations where in-depth information is to be obtained.

  • Can be molded and adapted according to individual situations.

  • Can be used when other methods are not adequate/possible.

  • Can be used even with children, and even with illiterate persons. 

  1. Questionnaires

  • A Paper which Consists of fixed set of questions, answers to which are marked by the respondent on the same paper, instead of verbally telling the interviewer.

  • Questionnaires are time saving, because they can be distributed to a group of respondents at one time, they can respond and mark the answers, and send the questionnaires back to the researcher.

  • Questions in a questionnaire are generally of two types:

  • Open Ended: Answers to these questions are dependent on the respondent. Respondent is free to write whatever/however they wish to answer the question.

  • Closed Ended Questions: the possible answers to these questions are given, all the respondent has to do is to choose the correct, or atleast the most suitable answer from the given options. E.g. True/False. MCQs, Rating scale, etc.

  • In a Rating Scale, a statement is given to the respondent to which he/she has to respond in the form of points. A rating scale can have a 3-point, 5-point, 7-point, 9-point or even 11-point scale. 

  • Questionnaires are best way to collect useful demographic information(age, gender, etc) about behaviors and attitudes of people about a certain topic.

  • Questionnaires can also be mailed to the respondents, but mailed questionnaires usually have a low response rate.

  1. Telephonic Survey

  • Telephonic Surveys are the conducted on a telephone call or via SMS.

  • These types of surveys save a lot of time.

  • Respondents usually get a call from the researcher and are asked to give their views on a particular topic. 

  • In these surveys, usually the respondent do not know the researcher, which is why the respondent may not be interested to answer, resulting in a low response rate.

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