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How to Conduct Surveys – Guide with Examples

Published by at August 16th, 2021 , Revised On August 29, 2023

Surveys are a popular primary data collection method and can be used in various types of research. A researcher formulates a survey that includes questions relevant to the research topic. The participants are selected, and the questionnaire is distributed among them, either online or offline. It consists of either open or close-ended questions.

Objectives and Uses of Survey 

  • Surveys are conducted for the planning of national, regional, or local programs.
  • They help to study the perceptions of the community related to the topic.
  • Surveys are used in market research, social sciences, and commercial settings.
  • They can also be used for various other disciplines, from business to anthropology.
  • Surveys are frequently used in quantitative research.

Guidelines for Conducting a Survey

Before conducting a survey, you should follow these steps:

  • Construct a clear and concise research problem statement focusing on what is being investigated and why the research is carried out.
  • Formulate clear and unbiased questions for the survey.
  • Test the questions randomly on volunteer groups and make necessary changes f required.
  • Determine the mode of survey distribution.
  • Schedule the timing of the survey.
  • Use a professional tone, a scholarly approach, and an academic format for your survey.
  • Ensure the privacy and anonymity of the participants.
  • Avoid offensive languages or biased questions.
  • Take the opinion of the participants.
  • Inform the participants about the survey.
  • Calculate the time required for gathering data, analysing, and reporting it.


How to Conduct a Survey?

Following are the steps while conducting the surveys.

  1. Set the aims of your research
  2. Select the type of survey
  3. Prepare a list of questions
  4. Invite the participants
  5. Record the responses of the participants
  6. Distribute the survey questions
  7. Analyse the results
  8. Write your report

Step 1: Set the Aims of your Research

Before conducting research, you need to form a clear picture of the outcomes of your study. Create a research question and devise the goals of your research. Based on the requirements of your research, you need to select the participants. It would help if you decided whether your survey would be online or offline.

You need to select a specific group of participants for your research. The participants can be:

  • A group of college students
  • Hospital staff
  • A group of people in public places
  • Customers or employs a specific company
  • A group of people based on their age, gender, and profession, etc.

Sometimes it’s impossible to survey the entire population individually if it’s a large population. It requires a lot of time and effort. In such cases, you can select a group of people from the selected community, and it’s called the sample.


  • 50 customers of a company
  • 40 students of class 12
  • 30 boys and 30 girls of age 14-15

You can also use an online survey if your target population is large. It helps in getting the maximum number of responses within a short time.

Useful reading: What is correlational research, a comprehensive guide for researchers.

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Step 2: Select the Type of Survey

Type of survey Definition Pros Cons
Questionnaire This survey is used in descriptive research in which information is collected by distributing a written questionnaire among the participants online, in person, mail. The participants are asked to fill out the questions.
  • Inexpensive
  • Time-saving
  • Easy to conduct
  • Participants may not answer honestly.
  • Participants can leave the questionnaire incomplete.
Interviews The participants are asked questions in person or on the phone, and the researcher records the responses.
  • In-depth responses
  • Flexible and adaptable
  • Participant’s gestures and expressions are visible if the interview is in person.
  • The interviewer can clarify the misunderstandings about the questions.
  • Time-consuming
  •  It does not work if the number of participants is large.
  • Requires the skills to interview effectively.
  • Possibility of biased responses
Online/Web/Electronic Survey Computers, laptops and mobile phones play a significant role in this kind of survey. A set of questions is sent through email and texts to a selected target sample, and participants respond to the questions.
  • Easy to conduct
  • Requires less time compared to interviews
  • You can target the participants globally.
  • Inexpensive
  • Quick responses
  • Participants can respond as per their time and convenience.
  • Responses can be incorrect or dishonest.
  • Computer knowledge is required to participate in such kinds of surveys.
  • Some questions are difficult to analyse
  • Incomplete answers from the participants.
Rating Scales It includes closed-ended questions to record the participants’ responses on a specific service/product or topic. Participants provide their feedback by choosing the rating scale as per their experience, whether it’s very good, average, or below average. You might have seen such kind of rating scales on many shopping sites.
  • Easy to conduct
  • Requires less time
  • You can target the participants globally.
  • Inexpensive
  • Quick responses
  • Responses can be incorrect or dishonest.
  • Computer knowledge is required to participate in such kind of surveys.
Checklists It includes a series of statements to evaluate the performance of an individual, organisation, or service. Participants need to tick the statements according to their observations and experiences.
  • Effortless
  • Cost-effective
  • Responses may not be reliable.

Example of the Rating Scale:


enjoy reading paper books more than reading e-books

How do you feel about your ability to find a career option according to your goals?

Step 3: Prepare a List of Questions

You can use various types of questions in your survey, such as open-ended, closed-ended, and multiple-choice questions. Most of the participants like short multiple-choice questions. Use simple and clear language to avoid misunderstanding. Avoid offensive language. 

If you are using checklists in your survey to get feedback on a specific feature, service, or product, then write the statements based on your evaluation aims.

Closed-ended Questions

  • Questions with answers such as (yes/no, agree/disagree, true/ false)
  • Rating scales with points or stars to measure the satisfaction of the people.
  • A list of questions with multiple options with either a single answer option or various answers.

Open-ended Questions

Open-ended questions require the participants’ individual answers according to their opinion, experience, and choice. The answers can be either one word or in sentences.


  • Tell me about your relationship with your boss?
  • Why did you choose this answer?
  • What’s your opinion on women’s education?
  • How do you see the future?
  • What is a success, according to you?

Step 4: Invite the Participants

You can try out many ways to invite the participants to your survey. You can inform them through emails, texts. You can post your survey on social media or design a banner to display on websites to grab the respondents’ attention.

Step 5: Record the Responses of the Participants

One of the essential steps is to gather responses from the participants. In most cases, people don’t pay attention to the survey questions or leave them incomplete. You can offer some rewards to increase the response rates of your participants. You can also promise to share the outcomes with your participants to improve their response rate.

Step 6: Distribute the Survey Questions

You need to decide the sample size (number of participants and responses required) according to your research requirements. It will help if you determine whether you are going to conduct an online survey or offline. 

Step 7: Analyse the Results

You can store the data in tabulated forms, charts, graphs, or you can take out a print of the data in the form of a spreadsheet. You can use text analysis to analyse the findings of your questionnaire survey.  You can perform a thematic analysis for the interview surveys. However, the information on the online surveys is stored automatically, and you can analyse it directly.

Step 8: Write your Report

The final step is to write a report for your survey. You need to ensure that you have met the objectives of your research or not. 

In the introduction, you need to explain your survey’s whole procedure by mentioning the time and place of the survey conducted. Mention the methods of analysis you used in your survey.

A successful survey represents reliable feedback to the survey questions as evidence of your research. If you have online surveys, the responses will help you measure the participant’s satisfaction and positive or negative opinions.

In the section of discussion and conclusion, you can explain your findings by using supporting evidence and concluding the results by answering your research questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Basic steps to conduct a survey:

  1. Define objectives and target audience.
  2. Develop clear and concise questions.
  3. Choose survey method (online, phone, etc.).
  4. Pilot test to refine questions.
  5. Distribute to participants.
  6. Collect and analyze responses.
  7. Draw conclusions and share findings.

About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He is a content manager at ResearchProspect. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.