A survey is a type of research in which information is collected with a questionnaire.
A questionnaire is an instrument. Like all other instruments it has to meet the conditions as stated on our webpage ´measuring with instruments´. In short, the gathered information should be valid, reliable and discriminative. Look for detailed information about these topics on the specific pages of this site.
Nowadays, most surveys are conducted online. However, sometimes, the survey is still done by pen and paper, by a telephonic interview or even a personal interview. Especially for elderly and disabled people these last types are probably better to get more response.
In an online survey a selected group of people is invited to fill in a form that they can find on the internet. The request can be sent by email, but a letter or a ticket or voucher might do the same: attract people to go to the site where they can give answers to an online questionnaire.
The questionnaire can be on the site of the company who needs the information. Now the company needs to have an application for questionnaires. If the needed information is easy, a simple question form can be used. However, if the questionnaire becomes difficult, a special application should be used and maybe it is even better to contact a provider who will put your questionnaire online on their platform.
Take care to choose a good provider. Some are free, but then the respondent sees a lot of advertisements that can be disturbing. Some providers collect more information than necessary, like the IP-address, email-address, the place of the respondent, language, time of response or whatever they would like to know. Most often it is not necessary to gather this information for your research so it is questionable why the provider is gathering it. Respondents who know that this information is being gathered, may not be willing to fill in online questionnaires anymore. Furthermore, some providers can deliver the information only in histograms or as a pdf. For a good research many more kinds of analyses are needed, so the information supplied is not good enough. Some providers ask money for delivering the data in a proper Excel or SPSS file. All in all, there are a lot of aspects to think about when choosing a provider.
Related topics to Survey:
- Questions (types of -)
- Gathering data