Another primary method of data collection is surveys. Surveys are self reports, this means that it collects data straight from the participant either in written form via a questionnaire or through talking in an interview scenario.

Surveys especially questionnaires have the potential to collect large amounts of data which is a strength as it makes the results more generalisable. If you’re going to send your questionnaire to a large sample before you do you are going to want to check that it has validity and reliability. You can do this through conducting a pilot study. A pilot study is a mini version of the proposed study. This allows any issues to be resolved before the questionnaire is sent out to the wider sample.

A standard procedure followed by primary researchers is as follows –


We will evaluate questionnaires during the lesson. For your AO1 and AO2 skills you need to firstly be aware that questionnaires are made up of two types of questions, open and/or closed. In the exam you may be asked to write an appropriate open or closed questions for research. An open question is one that has no fixed choice, participants can write a description in response therefore this type of questions collects qualitative data. Closed questions have a fixed choice, either tick boxes, scales or ranking’. These questions collect quantitative data.

As well as question type you may be asked about distribution of questionnaires. These tend to be social media led now however at one time you would receive questionnaires through the post or over the telephone. One major issues we will discuss is attrition, that is drop out rate. Once you have sent out the questionnaire you are asking for participants time, they may not do this without an incentive.

Interviews are another form of survey. These require the researcher and their team to conduct either one to one interviews (face to face) with participants or group interviews (often called focus groups). There are three types of interviews, formal/structured where set questions are asked. Unstructured/informal these interviews allow participants to talk freely and also for interviews to expand or change direction. Structured interviews tend to collect quantitative date therefore appeal more to the positivist researcher whereas unstructured tend to collect more in-depth qualitative date so appeal as a methodology for interpretivists.

Key words

Survey. Open questions.  Closed questions.  Imposition effect.  Social desirability.   Demand characteristics.  Pilot study.  Interviews.  Group interviews.  Focus groups.  Interviewer bias.