Difference Between Questionnaire and Survey

Questionnaire vs Survey

Whether it is marketing, health care services, gathering of information from a population on social issues or just about any other matter, questionnaire and survey are two of the most important methods to collect and analyze information from public. In fact, 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.

Knowing that questionnaire is a type of survey does not make the picture any more clearer until we are aware of surveys themselves. Let us first take a look at surveys. 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 survey where we provide our inputs in addition to personal information that helps government in deciding on a certain welfare policy.

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)?

Companies conduct surveys, don’t they? But you will rarely find a company conducting a questionnaire. So surveys are the act of gathering information from respondents, whereas questionnaires are the forms themselves. We distribute questionnaires or make use of questionnaires, but we never conduct questionnaires.

Conducting surveys is no longer limited to distribution of printed papers asking respondents to enter their preferences. They are today conducted on 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.

What is the difference between Questionnaire and Survey?

When surveys are interviews and not questionnaires, they can be open ended and in depth in sharp contrast to questionnaires that are prepared in such a manner so as to not irritate the respondent. Again, a questionnaire need not generate accurate or honest responses from the respondents, whereas in the case of surveys in the form of interviews, it is possible to elicit true, honest responses. Both surveys and questionnaires are employed for collection of information and they are used dependent upon circumstances and requirements.