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A survey can be used to study people's opinions, attitudes, experiences, knowledge, etc. A basic instrument for surveys is the questionnaire. This can include simple questions ("What do you think of ..."; "How many novels have you read this month?"), but also questions linked to reading a piece of text or viewing an image or video.

A questionnaire can be taken several ways: orally (face to face or by telephone), on paper or digitally. Conducting a survey digitally has several advantages:

  • you can reach many respondents, with a large geographical spread (when conducting an online survey);
  • you have better control over the data entry of closed questions (e.g. when using drop down menus for the selection of possible answers);
  • the questions can be progressively revealed to the respondent, which helps to keep him or her engaged;
  • the more advanced ditital survey tools allow you to make use of adaptive questioning, which means that the questions a user is asked depend on his or her answers to previous questions.
  • the processing of the results is easier, both logistically and analytically;
  • digital survey tools facilitate durable storage and archiving of the results. This also allows you to make the results available to others, which enhances the possibilities for verification of both the reported survey results and the subsequent analysis.


There are various programs available for conducting a digital survey, most of which are web based.
  • ThesisTools is a free program for creating and conducting simple online questionnaires.
  • For creating and conducting more advanced surveys, where questions are linked to reading pieces of text or viewing images or videos, our faculty uses Qualtrics.

Further remarks

  • The quality of your research depends on the design of the questionnaire, which provides the data for your research. It is therefore very important to carefully design the questionnaire to be as methodologically sound and as closely connected to your research questions and/or hypotheses as possible. Important methodological decisions relate to the selection criteria for participants (statistics: random sampling) and the way in which the questionnaire is taken (controlled, e.g. in computer room, or uncontrolled, e.g. through an on-line questionnaire). It is recommended that you always consult with your teacher, of course after first studying the relevant information in a methodology textbook. Quick tips for designing a survey can be found in the Survey Design Tutorial by StatPac
  • In most cases, the research results will be subjected to statistical analysis. More info on statistical analysis