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Survey Research


Survey research is a scientific social research method that involves collecting responses from a random sample of the population using closed or open-ended questions. Surveys generally can be divided into two categories, questionnaires and interviews, though they run the gamut from a short paper-and-pencil feedback form to an intensive one-on-one in-depth interview.

Surveys are an important instrument for collecting data, but are often both over-used and under-understood. Survey data is indirect information and relies on the respondent’s self-perceptions. Critics point out that surveys (or improperly developed and administered surveys) suffer from many shortfalls: They often used biased samples, contain questions that mask complexities of conflicting views, force respondents to formulate opinions etc.


Useful Resources

How to conduct a survey. PowerPoint presentation prepared by Nancy Whelchel, UPA , covering survey development, administration and analysis. Nancy is the on the LITRE Assessment Committee and is available to answer questions as you develop your survey.
Nancy Whelchel, Ph.D.
Assistant Director for Survey Research
University Planning and Analysis

Survey research methods: (From Research Methods Knowledge Base) A comprehensive web-based textbook written by William M.K. Trochim, a Professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University.

Developing Focus groups and Interview questions: