The difference between survey and questionnaire
The difference between survey and questionnaire

The difference between a survey and a questionnaire is that the latter includes any written questions. At the same time, the former is both the set of questions and the process of collecting, aggregating and analyzing the responses from those questions. In other words, “questionnaire” describes the content, while “survey” is a broader term that describes the content, method, and analysis.
A survey goes much deeper than a questionnaire and often involves more than one data collection form.

The definition of a questionnaire

A questionnaire is a set of questions typically used for research purposes that can be qualitative and quantitative. 

The purpose of a questionnaire is to gather data from a target audience. It will include open-ended questions, closed-ended questions, or a combination of both.

Whether the respondent completes the questionnaire himself or through the interviewer, we distinguish between a survey questionnaire and an interview questionnaire. The questionnaire can be distributed electronically (CAWI). And in the case of an interview questionnaire, the survey can be conducted by telephone (CATI) or in the presence and assistance of the interviewer (CAPI).

There are two types of questionnaires:

– Questionnaires that evaluate separate variables, including questions regarding an individual’s behavior, facts, and preferences.

– Questionnaires that measure factors incorporated into a scale-like those about individual identities and different attributes, indexes, and traits.

Survey definition

It is both an information-gathering technique and a printed or electronic sheet consisting of one or more questions on a given topic. Because the questionnaires are often attended by people from specific groups, e.g., students, women on maternity leave, or retirees. For this reason, there may be a sample bias/sampling error that is therefore not representative. Therefore, the survey allows you to establish and maintain contact with a given target group, but it should be treated with caution when making strategic decisions. The ultimate purpose of a survey is to find out more about a particular group of people. For example, businesses use surveys to learn more about how specific consumers behave.

The respondent can explain the answer in a descriptive style in case of open-ended questions, or a respondent can be asked to choose a response or an answer from a pre-defined set of options in case of close-ended questions.

Surveys are the standard method for completing research in which the respondents are addressed concerning awareness, demographics, motivations, and behavior.

In the end, surveys and questionnaires have more in common than different, one being part of the other, with the only distinction being how they are presented to a respondent.

The way you design, implement and analyze a survey impacts your results as much as the questions you ask.

  1. Survey design marks a critical difference between survey and questionnaire. It involves planning each part of your survey project—from defining your survey goals to aligning who reviews your survey responses. Familiarize yourself with ready-made survey templates that you can quickly adapt to your requirements.
  2. The way you collect responses also impacts your survey. You can use several approaches to collecting feedback–including sharing a link to your survey on social media, emailing the survey to your audience, and embedding it on your site.
  3. Connect your surveys and forms to your favorite apps. Integrations offer a virtually endless number of ways to segment, aggregate, and analyze your survey responses so that you can better understand your feedback and make significant decisions

A questionnaire is one-purpose data collection through a set of questions.

A survey is data collection through a set of questions for statistical analysis.

When to use a survey instead of a questionnaire?

Though surveys ultimately offer more value for researchers than questionnaires, some situations warrant the use of stand-alone questionnaires over surveys. Questionnaires are the more logical option in instances where you want to compile an individual’s information for purposes like:

  • Accepting donations.
  • Creating email lists.
  • Gathering details for payment processing.
  • Conducting job interviews.

Surveys are more useful when you’re looking to receive feedback from your respondents and want to make inferences based on the acquired information. These methods are practical when achieving a focused goal and making it accessible to a target demographic.

Examples of situations where a survey would be the more suitable choice include:

  • Obtaining customer feedback after an experience.
  • Determining a product’s success.
  • Gauging employee satisfaction.
  • Conducting exit interviews.
  • Evaluating brand awareness.

Create an account on the Responsly platform or use the free 7-day test access and get to know all the possibilities of the website. Using our tool, you can use our database of ready-made survey examples.