Survey Research Advantages Disadvantages Survey Design

One of the most popular types of psychological research involves the use of surveys. Survey research provides descriptive information from subject responses to questions or item statements. Surveys may seek biographical or factual information, query knowledge about a subject, or solicit opinions about a subject. 


The advantages in using surveys:

Surveys are easy to create The scope of topics that can be studied with surveys is broad data that is easy to interpret; and to manage data collection can occur through varied methods such as through paper questionnaires, interviews; or online reliability and validity estimations are possible with standardized surveys Reliability and validity allow for the generalization of findings from the sample to a larger population.  


Surveys are not perfect. Most of the weaknesses or disadvantages associated with surveys are due to poor study design. The disadvantages associated with surveys:

The simplicity of surveys can result in poorly constructed surveys or unethical practices in the administration of the study. The item statements/questions and answer options on the survey may not be applicable to the sample. Bias in sample selection is possible. Findings can be misinterpreted if used to make inferences about the sample or population rather than to describe sample responses. The wrong statistical measures may be used in processing responses.  

Survey Design

Survey items/questions vary according to topic, but survey design has only three options. Surveys can use open-ended, closed-ended, and partially closed items. Open-ended items/questions invite detailed responses at the discretion of respondents (why?). Closed-ended items/questions “forces” the selection of a response from among all possible responses (yes or no). Partially closed items/questions include answer options but also allow respondents to elaborate on their responses (Yes or No; why?) 


The use of surveys is a simple and cost-effective way to gather data from a sample of a larger population. However, surveys must be constructed in a manner that is applicable to the sample and captures the topic of interest. The administration of the study must follow the ethical and professional guidelines that govern research. Otherwise, the study will lack credibility and the findings will be called into question. What are suggestions for effective survey research?

Follow the ethical/professional guidelines that are standard in designing the research studies. Consider an applicable standardized survey before writing one. Standardized surveys should demonstrate high reliability and validity. Keep surveys brief. Use closed-ended items/questions with responses based on yes/no or a standard Likert scale (strongly disagree to strongly agree). Understand the statistics that will be used with interpreting the data (percentages, t-tests, etc.)