Coupon Accepted Successfully!


How do we Collect the Data?

  • Do you know how a manufacturer decides about a product or how a political party decides about a candidate?
  • They conduct a survey by asking questions about a particular product or candidate from a large group of people.
  • The purpose of surveys is to describe some characteristics like price, quality, usefulness (in case of the product) and popularity, honesty, loyalty (in case of the candidate).
  • The purpose of the survey is to collect data. Survey is a method of gathering information from individuals.

Preparation of Instrument

  • The most common type of instrument used in surveys is questionnaire/ interview schedule.
  • The questionnaire is either self administered by the respondent or administered by the researcher (enumerator) or trained investigator.
  • While preparing the questionnaire/interview schedule, you should keep in mind the following points;
  • The questionnaire should not be too long. The number of questions should be as minimum as possible. Long questionnaires discourage people from completing them.
  • The series of questions should move from general to specific. The questionnaire should start from general questions and proceed to more specific ones. This helps the respondents feel comfortable.
For example:
Poor Q
  1. Is increase in electricity charges justified?
  2. Is the electricity supply in your locality regular?
Good Q
  1. Is the electricity supply in your locality regular?
  2. Is increase in electricity charges justified?
    • ​​The questions should be precise and clear.
For example,
Poor Q
What percentage of your income do you spend on clothing in order to look presentable?

Good Q
What percentage of your income do you spend on clothing?
  • The questions should not be ambiguous, to enable the respondents to answer quickly, correctly and clearly.
For example:
Poor Q
Do you spend a lot of money on books in a month?

Good Q
How much do you spend on books in a month?
  1. Less than Rs 200
  2. Between Rs 200-300
  3. Between Rs 300-400
  4. More than Rs 400
The question should not use double negatives. The questions starting with “Wouldn't you” or “Don't you” should be avoided, as they may lead to biased responses.

For example:
Poor Q
Don't you think smoking should be prohibited?

Good Q
Do you think smoking should be prohibited?
The question should not be a leading question, which gives a clue about how the respondent should answer.

For example:
Poor Q
How do you like the flavour of this high-quality tea?

Good Q
How do you like the flavour of this tea?
The question should not indicate alternatives to the answer.

For example:
Poor Q
Would you like to do a job after college or be a housewife?

Good Q
Would you like to do a job, if possible? The questionnaire may consist of closed ended (or structured) questions or open ended (or unstructured) questions. Closed ended or structured questions can either be a two-way question or a multiple choice question. When there are only two possible answers, 'yes' or 'no', it is called a two way question. When there is a possibility of more than two options of answers, multiple choice questions are more appropriate.

Q. Why did you sell your land?
(i) To pay off the debts.
(ii) To finance children's education.
(iii) To invest in another property.
(iv) Any other (please specify).

Closed -ended questions are easy to use, score and code for analysis, because all the respondents respond from the given options. But they are difficult to write as the alternatives should be clearly written to represent both sides of the issue. There is also a possibility that the individual's true response is not present among the options given. For this, the choice of 'Any Other' is provided, where the respondent can write a response, which was not anticipated by the researcher. Moreover, another limitation of multiple-choice questions is that they tend to restrict the answers by providing alternatives, without which the respondents may have answered differently.

Open-ended questions allow for more individualised responses, but they are difficult to interpret and hard to score, since there are a lot of variations in the responses.

Q. What is your view about globalisation?

Mode of Data Collection
Have you ever come across a television show in which reporters ask questions from children, housewives or general public regarding their examination performance or a brand of soap or a political party? The purpose of asking questions is to do a survey for collection of data. There are three basic ways of collecting data: (i) Personal Interviews, (ii) Mailing (questionnaire) Surveys, and (iii) Telephone Interviews.

(i) Personal Interviews

This method is used when the researcher has access to all the members. The researcher (or investigator) conducts face to face interviews with the respondents. Personal interviews are preferred due to various reasons. Personal contact is made between the respondent and the interviewer. The interviewer has the opportunity of explaining the study and answering any query of the respondents. The interviewer can request the respondent to expand on answers that are particularly important. Misinterpretation and misunderstanding can be avoided. Watching the reactions of the respondents can provide supplementary information. Personal interview has some demerits too. It is expensive, as it requires trained interviewers. It takes longer time to complete the survey. Presence of the researcher may inhibit respondents from saying what they really think.

(ii) Mailing Questionnaire


When the data in a survey are collected by mail, the questionnaire is sent to each individual by mail with a request to complete and return it by a given date. The advantages of this method are that, it is less expensive. It allows the researcher to have access to people in remote areas too, who might be difficult to reach in person or by telephone. It does not allow influencing of the respondents by the interviewer. It also permits the respondents to take sufficient time to give thoughtful answers to the questions. These days online surveys or surveys through short messaging service i.e. SMS have become popular. Do you know how an online survey is conducted?

The disadvantages of mail survey are that, there is less opportunity to provide assistance in clarifying instructions, so there is a possibility of misinterpretation of questions. Mailing is also likely to produce low response rates due to certain factors such as returning the questionnaire without completing it, not returning the questionnaire at all, loss of questionnaire in the mail itself, etc.

Telephone Interviews

In a telephone interview, the investigator asks questions over the telephone. The advantages of telephone interviews are that they are cheaper than personal interviews and can be conducted in a shorter time. They allow the researcher to assist the respondent by clarifying the questions. Telephone interview is better in the cases where the respondents are reluctant to answer certain questions in personal interviews.

The disadvantage of this method is access to people, as many people may not own telephones. Telephone Interviews also obstruct visual reactions of the respondents, which becomes helpful in obtaining information on sensitive issues.

Pilot Survey
  • Once the questionnaire is ready, it is advisable to conduct a try out with a small group which is known as Pilot Survey or Pre-Testing of the questionnaire. 
  • The pilot survey helps in providing a preliminary idea about the survey. It helps in pre-testing of the questionnaire, so as to know the shortcomings and drawbacks of the questions. 
  • Pilot survey also helps in assessing the suitability of questions, clarity of instructions, performance of enumerators and the cost and time involved in the actual survey.
  • You have to collect information from a person, who lives in a remote village of India. Which mode of data collection will be the most appropriate for collecting information from him?
  • You have to interview the parents about the quality of teaching in a school. If the principal of the school is present there, what types of problems can arise?



  • Highest Response Rate
  • Allows use of all types of questions
  • Better for using open-ended questions
  • Allows clarification of ambiguous questions.
  • Least expensive
  • Only method to reach remote areas
  • No influence on respondents
  • Maintains anonymity of respondents
  • Best for sensitive questions.
  • Relatively low cost
  • Relatively less influence on respondents
  • Relatively high response rate. The essential
    feature of this method is that this covers every individual unit in the entire population. You cannot select some and leave out others. You may be familiar with the Census of India, which is carried out every ten years.
  • Most expensive
  • Possibility of influencing respondents
  • More time taking.
  • Cannot be used by illiterates
  • Long response time
  • Does not allow explanation of unambiguous questions
  • Reactions cannot be watched.
  • Limited use
  • Reactions cannot be watched
  • Possibility of influencing respondents.

Test Your Skills Now!
Take a Quiz now
Reviewer Name