Survey Research – Definition, Process Explained

Published 16 October, 2023

A survey is a research study that involves asking people questions. Surveys are often used to measure public opinion, conduct market research, or make decisions about social programs. This blog post will cover the basics of conducting a survey including what it is and its uses and provide some tips on how to improve your chances of getting an accurate response rate from participants.

What is Survey Research?

A survey is a research method used for collecting data from a predefined group of respondents to gain information and insights into various topics of interest. They can have multiple purposes, and researchers can conduct them in many ways depending on the methodology chosen and the study’s goal.

In other words, survey research is basically a research method that is applicable to the accumulation of facts in order to develop an in-depth understanding of the research topic. You can also consider a survey to be as in the detailed examination of the procedure or human behavior. A survey is a type of investigation which researchers conduct for developing an understanding of the characteristics of the population.

In the survey, you need to analyze the responses of respondents by applying statistical techniques that will help you in reaching a research conclusion. The important benefit of the survey is that it provides ease in easily reaching and engaging with the audience.

The main objective of the survey research is to gain valuable insight into the topic or subject.

For example, an in-depth investigation which an organization performs for gathering information about customer’s opinions about newly launch products. It is the data that the company has gathered through the survey which will help management in determining the need for further improvement in newly launch products.

Uses of Survey Research

A survey is useful when you have to collect information about the preferences, opinions, and feelings of people. You can also utilize it for accumulating facts by directly communicating with participants and asking them questions relevant to the subject or topic. It is the type of research methodology which researchers mainly use in Qualitative research.

Survey also has some other common uses such as:

  • Social Research: You can perform such types of research for gathering in-depth information about the characteristics and experiences of different social groups of people.
  • Market Research/Customer Satisfaction: It is the market research that companies perform in order to get insight into the opinions of customers about goods or services. Such kinds of research, researchers mainly use for collecting information about the entire market.
  • Health Research: Researchers use such types of surveys for accumulating facts about symptoms of the disease. Information about the different treatments of specific illnesses.
  • Political Research: It is the type of survey that the researcher performs for gathering information about people’s opinions about politics.
  • Psychology Research: Researchers use such types of research for collecting information about personality traits, preferences of people.

Process of conducting survey research

The process of conducting survey research consists of different phases, these are :

1. Establishment of objectives

It is the initial phase where you need to set the objective of conducting the survey. While setting objectives you need to be sure that it is narrowly scoped. You need to note down the research questions for which you want to get answers by performing the survey. This is the type of investigation which is useful where the sample size of the population is very large.

For instance, your objective for conducting the survey is to gather information about customer’s opinions about the business procedure.

2. Identification of target audience and sample

This is the most important phase. Before starting to perform you have set some objectives which will help you in identifying the target audience.

A target audience or population: It is basically a group of people from whom you will gather information about specific topics or subjects.

It is a phase where you need to identify the people from whom you will collect information from. In the context of the survey, two main factors that are the availability of time and budget will help you in determining the size of the sample. The selection of the appropriate sample is very much important in order to produce accurate outcomes.

Sample: Throughout your research, it is not always possible to survey the entire population you are studying. Instead, researchers usually take a sample of that population for their study.
For instance, It may be difficult or impossible for someone conducting an environmental topic like water quality in Brazil to actually get information from every person living there because they could never reach them all and many people won’t respond anyway. But if I were doing this type of work with college students here at home then finding enough responses would be much more feasible.

3. Determination of types of surveys

This is the phase where you need to decide which type of survey you want to execute. The two basic types of survey that researchers generally perform  are :

  • Interview: An interview is a conversation with someone in which a researcher asks a set of questions from the audience personally or through telephone and gathers information about a study topic.
  • Questionnaire: It is a standardized set of questions that’s designed to measure certain traits and behaviors in as short a time as possible. It is a type of survey where a list of questions is distributed by mail, online or in person, and respondents fill it out themselves.

A frequent approach to collecting demographic information is to send out a paper survey by mail. The type of research you choose will depend on the sample size and location, as well as your focus.

4. Designing the survey questions

It is a stage where you will require designing research questions. At the time of designing research questions, you need to keep in mind the objectives of the survey. It is important to consider:

  • The correct type of questions: There are mainly two types of survey questions: open-ended and close-ended.
  1. Open-ended questions: It is best for qualitative research. It is the technique applying which you can provide respondents with an opportunity to express their opinion. Such type of questions in the questionnaire form does not contain options.
  2. Close-ended questions: It is the best for quantitative research. In closed-ended questions, respondents are given with options from which they have to select one. Closed-ended questions help provide statistical data that can be analyzed to find patterns, trends and correlations. A close-ended questions can include a binary answer(yes/no), a list of options with single answer or a list of options with multiple answer.
  • Content of the survey questions: Your survey is only as good as the questions you ask. A poorly written question can lead to a misleading response, which means your research will be inaccurate and unreliable. To avoid this problem, make sure all of your questions are narrowly focused with enough context for respondents to answer accurately and directly related to the purpose of the study or project.
  • Clear phrasing of survey questions: When designing survey questions, make sure that the language is easy for respondents to understand and avoid words with vague or ambiguous meanings. Your questions should not be biased in any way so try phrasing them neutrally without bias towards one answer over another.
  • The right order of survey questions: Surveys should be arranged in an engaging and logical order. Start with less sensitive, closed-ended questions to keep respondents entertained enough so they’ll want to continue through the survey. To ensure the proper logic flow of a questionnaire, group similar topics or themes together on one page while dividing up sections for related content.

Read Also: Research Project Questions for Masters and Undergraduate Students

5. Distribution of survey form, and gathering information

You can use E-mail for the distribution of the survey form. In addition to this, you can personally distribute the survey form to participants. You can use an online survey for collecting information about topics or subjects from a large number of audiences.

6. Analyzing the survey and write up the survey result

There are many methods for analyzing the responses to your survey. First, you have to process the data with a computer program that will sort all of them and remove incomplete or incorrectly completed entries. After this step, you need to clean up by removing any unnecessary information from each response. You can apply statistical techniques or mathematical techniques for analyzing the information which you have gathered through the survey.

By the end of your research, you will have a clear idea about what to write. You’ll need an introduction and a conclusion.
In the methodology section, you describe how and why you conducted your survey. You should explain what types of questions were asked, when and where they took place (in which region), the sampling method used to select participants for this study as well as their response rate. If applicable in explaining these different aspects of the data collection procedure, include a copy or summary questionnaire that was utilized by each participant so they can recall specific details about its content.

In the discussion, you provide your explanations and interpretations of these results that will answer your research question. In conclusion, as always, it’s best not to jump to any conclusions but rather consider the implications and limitations of this research before drawing a final decision or conclusion.

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