Difference between survey and questionnaire

3 min readMar 5, 2021


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Survey and questionnaire are the two methods to obtain data from respondents based on interviews. Both are methods used to collect primary data, whether to market a product or to gather information from people on social issues. Surveys are the conventional type of research that asks respondents about behavior, awareness, motivations, demographics, and other characteristics.

Conversely, questionnaires are a tool used to collect data on a specific topic by distributing forms that contain questions from the topic being studied. In this article, you will learn about the differences between surveys and questionnaires.

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Definition of survey

By the term survey, we mean a research process used for the orderly collection and analysis of information from a group of people to measure opinions, thoughts, experiences, etc. It is not limited to collecting information with questions, but also includes observations, measurement, analysis of data, and evaluation of the researcher.

A survey can take various online forms, such as a survey of the entire population as a census, but it can also be conducted using a representative sample of a group to draw conclusions about a larger population. A sample survey is a widely used method because of its cost-effectiveness, speed, and practical approach. There are many ways to conduct surveys:

  • Personal questioning (interview)
  • Questionnaire
  • Telephone survey
  • Mail or postal survey
  • Internet-based survey
  • E-mail survey
  • Web-based survey

Definition of questionnaire

The term “questionnaire” refers to a form that contains a series of survey questions designed to extract specific information from the respondent. The instrument contains questions, instructions, and blanks for answers. The questions to be asked are formulated to obtain direct information from the respondent.

A questionnaire has a written and printed format that is transmitted or distributed to people to provide answers to facts or opinions. The surveyor uses these responses for statistical analysis. It is mainly used to collect factual information to separate people and their circumstances.

Main differences between survey and questionnaire

The difference between survey and questionnaire can be clearly identified for the following reasons:

  • The term survey means collecting, recording, and analyzing information about a specific topic, area, or group of people. The questionnaire involves a form with a series of pre-written questions that are sent to people in order to obtain statistical information.
  • The survey is a process of collecting and analyzing data from the population. On the contrary, the questionnaire is an instrument used in the collection of data.
  • The survey is a time-consuming process, while the questionnaire is the least time-consuming method of data collection.
  • The survey is conducted while the questionnaire is delivered, distributed, or mailed to the respondents.
  • In a survey, the questions asked in the survey can be open or closed. This depends on the topic for which the survey is conducted. On the other hand, only closed questions may be included in the questionnaire.
  • Respondents’ answers during the survey may be either subjective or objective depending on the question. In contrast, respondents give objective answers to the questionnaire.


“Survey” is a generic term that includes a questionnaire, an interview, and an observation method as a tool for collecting information. The best, fastest and cheapest way to conduct a survey is by questionnaire. Surveys are usually conducted for research or study purposes, while questionnaire is only used to collect information such as application, medical history, etc.




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