Jay is an industry veteran and has been in the Market Research space for almost 10 years, working with technology and full service insight and data collection companies. He has specialized in working with agencies and universities to use technology to help streamline the survey process, maximize efficiency and optimize their budget. He is currently the Director of Client Development for PureSpectrum based out of New York City supporting the companies clients in the Eastern region.

Survey vs Questionnaire: What’s the Difference?

PureSpectrum Marketplace offers researchers access to global high-quality respondents. Before you launch your survey, there are a few things you need to take into consideration at the beginning of your study. 

Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Before diving into different types of questionnaires and surveys, it is important to distinguish between the two types of research: 

Qualitative: Used primarily through opened-ended responses with a small but highly validated sample size. Questionnaires that use qualitative research methods or in-person interviews can go into deep discussion and analysis of topics, giving researchers a fuller scope of understanding about their research topic. This can include online forums, focus groups, online communities and more. 

    • This can be achieved through unstructured questionnaires that use a basic structure to start, but have branching questions that do not limit the responses from a respondent.

Quantitative: Asking direct questions to a specific target audience through an organized and precise methodology. The collected data measuring perceptions and satisfaction is used for improving products, messaging and services for businesses. This includes polls, surveys, survey questionnaires and more.

    • This can be achieved through structured questionnaires that are designed to gather precise information to validate or disprove a prior hypothesis. 

Both questionnaires and surveys can be used for these two types of research.

What is a Research Questionnaire?

A questionnaire is a form of research that uses a question set or prompt to gather information from a respondent. Developed in 1838 by the Statistical Society of London (QuestionPro),

Types of Questionnaire Questions

The types of questions used can include:

Close-ended questions: Questions that only allow respondents to answer from a predetermined list of answers. This can include true/false questions, multiple choice, sliding scales, ranking, ratings and more. This enables respondents to answer quickly, unbiasedly, and makes it easier for researchers to quantify and analyze.

Opened-ended questions: Questions that cannot be answered through predetermined answer choices and requires respondents to write more elaborate responses. This can include suggestions for survey improvements, free-verse comments on products or events, and satisfaction. Even though respondents will take longer to answer these questions, they are more in depth and provide a more complete analysis. 

Types of Questionnaires

Different types of questionnaires can serve different purposes, depending on the type of questions a researcher needs answered. These can include:

Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire: To gauge the satisfaction of a customer after interacting or having an experience with an organization. Ex: Measure satisfaction of your last theme park visit including services, food and ride wait times.  

Product Use Satisfaction Questionnaire: To gauge the satisfaction of a customer after using a product to better understand product or related product trends. This can help businesses predict what will be successful in the future and what audiences want to see on the market.

Communications Evaluation Questionnaire: To gauge the effectiveness of both internal and external business communication. This lets business leaders know if policies are being carried out for employees and clients.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Research Questionnaire

Advantages of a Research Questionnaire

  • With a questionnaire, researchers have the ability to gather large amounts of information from a large pool of segmented respondents in less time. They can send out manual or automated messaging with a link to their survey to start collecting responses.
  • Through a structured set of questions, researchers can eliminate potential bias and more accurately allow for trend tracking/historical data comparisons. Data is easy to analyze and compare, lending itself to easy visualization and application.
  • Respondents can answer without revealing personal data, so questionnaires comply with major data and privacy regulations.
  • Through specifically online distribution methods, questionnaires can be quick and cost effective to run.

Disadvantages of a Research Questionnaire

  • Respondents can provide dishonest, random answers to questions, skip parts of the questionnaire or drop out all together, leading to wrong or incomplete data. Especially if question sets are longer, respondents have the potential to get tired, select sporadic answers and rush to finish.
  • Respondents can get confused and answer incorrectly because questions are nuanced, not written clearly, there is a cultural disconnect, or they interpreted the language wrong.
  • Questionnaires may not be entirely representative due to accessibility issues, such as access to the internet.
  • Fraudsters manipulate online surveys to trick the system for their own financial gain, but this doesn’t have to be the case. The PureSpectrum system has advanced data quality methods in place to preserve our client’s data. 

Questionnaire Design

Effective questionnaire design is vital for gathering usable and cohesive data from respondents. In order to ensure that the collected responses are the most accurate they can be, everything from the material covered to question wording must be taken into consideration.

Ensure survey topic clarity. It is important to know exactly what the questionnaire will be covering and what the intended purpose of it is.

Keep question wording as simple as possible. Questions must be straightforward and easy to understand or respondents may misunderstand, input wrong answers and skew data collection.

Be flexible with question answer choices. Including options such as “none of the above” or “other” will keep respondents more engaged.

Ask questions one at a time. This will prevent the respondent from feeling overwhelmed or affect the quality of the data due to misunderstanding of what is being asked.

Think carefully about what question type to utilize. Will I get the best answer to these questions with a close-ended question or open-ended question? Am I looking for answer depth or answer comparability?

Know the audience you are surveying. Choosing the best population segment to answer your questions is vital to data accuracy. Researchers must always know their target audiences and required demographics for respondents.

What is a survey?

A survey is the act of collecting information from a sample of people with the intent to generalize the findings to a larger group of people and provide statistical analysis. While questionnaires are question sets to collect responses, surveys are the research methods for collecting data to gain information.  

Surveys are utilized within almost every industry that is interested in gathering insights including businesses, the media, government and academics. The respondents that researchers survey are predefined and surveyed through standardized procedures. This ensures a level playing field for all respondents and prevents the introduction of biases.

The four most common types of surveys include:

  • Face-to-Face Surveys: the researcher or survey administer is in person with respondents and asks the questions. This can include focus groups and mall stops.
  • Telephone Surveys: the researcher or survey administer calls respondents and gathers responses over the phone.
  • Self-administered paper and pencil surveys: respondents manually input hard-copy answers and return the surveys to the administers by mailing them in.
  • Self-administered online surveys: surveys administered to large numbers of respondents predominantly over the internet. Due to the rise in technology, online surveys are becoming one of the leading forms of surveying due to providing users a greater ease of use and cost savings options.

Survey Sampling

Once a survey questionnaire has been designed, tested and it’s been determined what audiences the study needs to reach, researchers can begin to think about fielding methodology. After identifying their target audience and demographics, they can seek out the best sample providers to supply them with respondents that will yield high-quality insights. 

Researches can:

  • Email or text respondents directly. When respondents are directly targeted, have given communication permissions and are already familiar with your brand, they are easier to reach and gather responses from.
  • Buy respondents. Buying sample widens survey feasibility and utilizes groups of respondents who actively participate in survey platforms to answer surveys. Through survey platforms like PureSpectrum’s Marketplace, researchers can gain access to over 40+ integrated panels for easier automated survey fielding.
  • Post to a social network or use an embedded QR code in ads/web pages. While on the go or viewing social media on a mobile device, researchers can gain access to these individuals through social media platforms.
  • Use API technologies. Setting up a surveying API can save time when getting surveys to field and offer large-volume buyers simplified fielding methods. In just two API calls, researchers can set up their survey and begin receiving targeted sample. PureSpectrum offers Buy API integrations to help researchers achieve greater efficiency. Check out our new advances in Buy API technology to see if it’s the right fit for your research.

The Difference Between Surveys and Questionnaires

The primary difference between surveys and questionnaires is that a survey is a research method used to evaluate opinions of a group of predefined individuals, while a questionnaire is a question set that forms the basis of a survey not usually used for gathering data or analyzing statistics. Surveys are used to gather data to forecast/predict trends, looking for the bigger picture. In that way, a questionnaire may or may not be delivered as a survey, but a survey always consists of a questionnaire.

Here is a breakdown further comparing the similarities and differences between a questionnaire and a survey:

Questionnaire Survey
Meaning A set of questions for collecting respondent information A fielding methodology that gains insights from a specific audience
What is it? A data collection tool A data collection process
Characteristics Part of a survey Includes a questionnaire but also considers survey design, sampling, fielding and data collection
Time and Cost Fast and more cost-sensitive  Can be expensive and require a longer time to complete
Use Conducted on a larger audience Distributed to and conducted on respondents, whether through promotion or paid acquisition. 
Questions More typically close-ended  Commonly includes a combination of close-ended and open-ended questions
Answers Objective Can be both subjective or objective

After taking the time to create your questionnaire and launch, utilize the automated PureSpectrum platform and Marketplace to field your survey. Ensure the feasibility of your study, access a network of integrated high-quality suppliers with reach to 50+ markets globally and start collecting insights. 

For more information on PureSpectrum’s Marketplace or to see if our sampling technology is the right fit for your research, contact us today.