Chapter 8: Data Collection Methods: Survey Research

8.1 Survey Research: What Is It and When Should It Be Used?

Survey research is a quantitative method whereby a researcher poses a set of predetermined questions to an entire group or sample of individuals. Survey research is an especially useful approach when a researcher aims to describe or explain features of a very large group or groups. This method may also be used as a way of quickly gaining some general details about a population of interest, to help prepare for a more focused, in-depth study using time-intensive techniques such as in-depth interviews or field research. In this case, a survey may help a researcher identify specific individuals from whom or locations from which to collect additional data. As is true of all methods of data collection, survey research is better suited to answering some kinds of research question than others.