Survey research is a technique to learn about people and why they behave the way they do. A survey is any kind of assessment that collects information from respondents to study their opinions, attitudes, decisions, features and more.
Surveys can be one-time or ongoing, quantitative or qualitative, administered online or in person, via mail-in forms or phone calls. In other words, there are many types of surveys. The kind of data needed, the resources available for collection and the purpose of the activity influence survey design. Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of survey research.
What Is Survey Method?
Simply put, the meaning of survey research is that surveys are a good way to collect large amounts of data. Relatively quick and easy, survey research might not provide as much depth as qualitative research. However, if you want an overall view, surveys are suited to the task.
When conducting survey research, the primary factors to keep in mind are: how many people to include, who will do the interviews and what questions are to be asked. Survey research can be structured in many ways. The most common types of survey research questions are given below.
1. Open-Ended Questions
A common technique in survey research, these questions don’t have predetermined answers. They allow respondents to answer in their own words.
2. Likert Scale
This is a scale where respondents provide ratings. It’s usually from 1 to 5, where 1 denotes ‘strongly disagree’ and 5 indicates ‘strongly agree’.
3. Mathematical Questions
These questions ask for numerical data. For example: “How many years have you lived in this area?”
4. Comparative Questions
These questions compare two groups of people or items. For example: “Which is the more effective soap?” or “Why would you find this book more useful than the other?”
5. Descriptive Questions
These types of survey research questions ask respondents in the sample to describe, explain, or illustrate something.
6. Multiple-Choice Questions
The respondents choose one from a list of several possible answers.
Now that we’ve answered what is survey research, let’s move on to its applications in a business environment.
Examples Of Survey Research
Why is survey research used in a business setting? Today, most organizations use surveys to collect information on client satisfaction, their willingness to pay for certain products or services and their demographics. The survey results inform decision-making about the future of the business. Here are a few examples of survey research uses.
Surveys can be used to create products that better fit the needs of consumers. For example, if a car manufacturer wants to design a new car, they might survey people on what color they’d most like, what features they want or whether they prefer an electric vehicle to a gas-powered one. After the results are analyzed, product planners can design a car that appeals most to customers.
Sociologists use examples of survey research as well. Their goals are to understand human behavior and use that knowledge to improve society. For example, they might want to study if people’s opinions about certain political or social issues have changed over time.
Survey research is also used in all kinds of institutions, including government agencies, educational institutions, hospitals and non-profit organizations.
Surveys are an efficient way to collect data on human behavior because they allow researchers to study relatively large sample sizes in a short period of time. Though surveys are considered more efficient than qualitative research, surveys can be less reliable than qualitative data. A few reasons for this are:
- It’s difficult to get a representative sample of the desired population
- Respondents may interpret questions differently
- People may want to please the researcher by giving them the answer they think they want
- It’s hard for people to give accurate information on topics they know little about
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