A survey is a data collection tool used to gather information about individuals. Surveys are commonly used in psychology research to collect self-report data from study participants. A survey may focus on factual information about individuals, or it might aim to collect the opinions of the survey takers.
A survey can be administered in a couple of different ways. In one method known as a structured interview, the researcher asks each participant the questions. In the other method known as a questionnaire, the participant fills out the survey on his or her own.
Advantages of Using Surveys
- Surveys allow researchers to collect a large amount of data in a relatively short period of time.
- Surveys are less expensive than many other data collection techniques.
- Surveys can be created quickly and administered easily.
- Surveys can be used to collect information on a wide range of things, including personal facts, attitudes, past behaviors and opinions.
Disadvantages of Using Surveys
- Poor survey construction and administration can undermine otherwise well-designed studies.
- The answer choices provided on a survey may not be an accurate reflection of how the participants truly feels.
- While random sampling is generally used to select participants, response rates can bias the results of a survey.
Types of Survey Data Collection
Surveys can be implemented in a number of different ways. Chances are good that you have participated in a number of different market research surveys in the past.
Some of the most common ways to administer survey include:
- Mail - An example might include an alumni survey distributed via direct mail by your alma mater.
- Telephone - An example of a telephone survey would be a market research call about your experiences with a certain consumer product.
- Online - Online surveys might focus on your experience with a particular retailer, product or website.
- At home interviews - The U.S. Census is a good example of an at-home interview survey administration.