Difference Between Questionnaire and Survey

Questionnaire vs Survey

The main difference between questionnaire and survey is that the questionnaire is a subset of the survey. Questionnaire and surveys are two different methods used for data collection. Whether it is marketing, health care services, gathering information from a population on social issues or just about any other matter, questionnaire and survey are vital to collect and analyze information from the public. In fact, a questionnaire is one of the two important categories into which surveys are divided, the other being interview. This article attempts to highlight the differences between a questionnaire and a survey on the basis of their features.

What is a Questionnaire?

What do you think of when the word questionnaire comes into your mind? I am sure you would think of all those mail surveys that you frequently encounter when you open your mail inbox. Every survey has questions that respondents have to answer in either yes or no or choose among one of the several alternatives given in the survey form. But the same goes with all questionnaires as well. What then is the point of differentiation between a survey and a questionnaire (knowing that a questionnaire is a type of survey)?

A questionnaire specifically refers to the form in which a number of questions have been typed in. The respondent has to provide yes or no answers to these questions. It is important to remember that we distribute questionnaires or make use of questionnaires, but we never conduct questionnaires. Questionnaires allow the researcher to arrive at conclusions that are statistically significant. Unlike in the case of interviews where in-depth data are being collected and analyzed, in questionnaires the focus is to collect quantitative data.

Difference Between Questionnaire and Survey

What is a Survey?

We are all aware of the printed forms that we receive from the government asking for information on various issues. Census is again an instance of a survey where we provide our inputs in addition to personal information that helps the government in deciding on a certain welfare policy.

Conducting surveys is no longer limited to the distribution of printed papers asking respondents to enter their preferences. They are today conducted by the telephone, by mail, email and even personally. Surveys can be in the form of interviews that are lengthy, costly and time taking. On the other hand, surveys can be short and quick in the form of questionnaires with multiple choice questions. This highlights that between a questionnaire and a survey, there exist a number of differences.

Questionnaire vs Survey

Results of a survey

What is the difference between Questionnaire and Survey?

• Definitions of Questionnaire and Survey:

• A questionnaire specifically refers to the form in which a number of questions have been typed in.

• A survey can come either in the form of a questionnaire or an interview.

• Nature:

• Questionnaires are prepared in such a manner so as to not irritate the respondent.

• When surveys are interviews and not questionnaires, they can be open-ended and in depth.

• Answers:

• A questionnaire need not generate accurate or honest responses from the respondents.

• In the case of surveys in the form of interviews, it is possible to elicit true, honest responses.

• Use:

• Both surveys and questionnaires are employed for collection of information, and they are used dependent upon circumstances and requirements.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Questionnaire by Plings . (CC BY 2.0)
  2. Media Survey Results by Guillaume Paumier (CC BY 3.0)