Surveys are a research method which involves collecting data from individuals by administering standardized questionnaires, interviews, or other data collection instruments. Surveys are widely used in social sciences, market research, public health, and various other disciplines to gather information on attitudes, behaviors, opinions, and characteristics of a target population.
A survey aims to obtain a representative sample of responses that can be analyzed to draw conclusions about the larger population.
Some key characteristics of surveys include:
- Standardization: Surveys use standardized instruments, such as questionnaires, with predetermined questions and response options, allowing consistency in data collection across participants.
- Structured format: Surveys typically have a structured format, with closed-ended questions (e.g., multiple-choice, Likert scales) that facilitate quantitative data analysis. However, open-ended questions may also be included for more qualitative insights.
- Sampling: Surveys often involve selecting a sample from a larger population. The sample should be representative to ensure that findings can be generalized to the larger population.
- Quantitative data: Surveys generate quantitative data, which can be statistically analyzed to identify patterns, trends, and associations within the data.
- Large-scale data collection: Surveys are suitable for large-scale data collection, allowing researchers to gather information from a significant number of participants efficiently.
- Objectivity: Researchers aim for objectivity in survey administration and data analysis to minimize bias and ensure the reliability of the findings.
List of recommended resources #
For a broad overview #
This article by TL Jones, MAJ Baxter and V Khanduja gives an overview of the survey research method, particularly medical research questionnaires or surveys.
This blog by Shona McCombes on Scribbr gives an overview of survey research, It defines the key concepts used in survey research, how to decide on the type of survey to be used, as well as how to design and write up survey results.
For in depth understanding #
This book by Bora Pajo covers both qualitative and quantitative methods of research, laying out their differences in clear and simple prose, making it easier for the readers to understand when and how to use each research design.
This chapter on surveys in Research Methods for the Social Sciences gives an in-depth understanding of the survey research method, along with its history, how to create questionnaires for surveys, the role of the interviewer as well as biases in survey research.
Case study #
This research article by Nila Nathan and Jamie Zeitzer aims to see if there is an association between mobile phone use, particularly at night, and sleepiness in a group of US teenagers. The article uses the survey research method for collecting data.
This survey, by Anna Dugan, Alexia Prskawetz and Natacha Raffin, has three aims. First, it reviews the role of life expectancy and pollution for sustainable growth. Second, it discusses the role of intervening factors like health investment and technological progress as well as institutional settings including government expenditures, tax structures, and inequality. Finally, it summarizes policy implications obtained in different models and compares them to each other.