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Survey Research as an Effective Data Collection Method

Strengths and Weaknesses of Survey Research

In General

Survey research has been used as quite a popular tool in data collection and analysis. As the name suggests, the research of the specified type is based on the data gathered with the help of a survey distributed among study participants (Ruel et al, p. 86). The described approach toward data management is common in the academic field due to its cost efficiency and reliability. Requiring a very small number of resources to be produced, distributed, and used for further analysis, survey research demands comparatively few expenses (Ruel et al. 87). However, survey research lacks depth and flexibility.

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Open-Ended Questions

Whether a question is open- or close-ended defines the method with which responses will be scrutinized. The introduction of open-ended questions suggests that participants of research should adopt a unique perspective from which they will approach the survey (Vannette and Krosnick, p. 121). In addition, the introduction of the described type of questions implies incorporating a minor amount of personal opinions and, therefore. Subjectivity into the responses (Vannette and Krosnick, p. 122). Consequently, subjectivity and the possibility of an in-depth into a respondent’s perspective are the distinctive weakness and strength of open-ended questions in survey research.

Close-Ended Questions

To elicit exact information from respondents, using open-ended questions will not be quite effective. To yield the required results, one will need close-ended questions, which allow either confirming or denying a particular fact (Vannette and Krosnick, p. 443). The main advantage of the described tool is that it offers an opportunity to receive accurate information without any irrelevant details (Vannette and Krosnick, p. 443). However, the problem of a close-ended question is that it may evoke specific ideas in participants, thus prompting them to answer a question in a biased way (Vannette and Krosnick, p. 443). Therefore, close-ended questions cannot be viewed as a flawless tool for deriving research data, either.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Field Research and Survey Research


Survey research shares a range of features with field research, the extent of results validity being flexible in both methods. In survey research, the level of validity hinges on the degree to which subjective information has been incorporated into the data (Babble 326). Since both types of studies imply retrieving information that may contain a personal perspective, the extent of validity in both survey and field research may vary. For instance, by deploying the methods that involve observations and study of the existing documentation, one may avoid the introduction of a personal agenda into the research data during a field study. Similarly, subjective information can be identified and avoided in survey research by including different types of questions.


To meet the goals of research, it is crucial to ask the questions that elicit the information directly required for the study. Therefore, each question in a survey study has to elicit only the information for which it was intended. In a survey study, the described objective may be difficult to attain when using open-ended questions (Vannette and Krosnick, p. 443). A field study, in turn, incorporated observations and interviews, which means that its reliability as the tool for obtaining the exact data required for the analysis is slightly higher.


After a study is conducted, its results need to be made applicable to other settings in order to further the progress in the designated area. However, the outcomes of some studies are restricted to very specific fields of expertise. Defined as generalizability, the opportunity to utilize research outcomes in a different environment is an important marker of legitimate research. In a survey study, generalizability levels are slightly lower than in field research since the former involves a certain amount of subjectivity in its results due to the data collection format (Babble, p. 327). Nevertheless, both types of research are important in every discipline when selected based on their advantages and unique characteristics.

Works Cited

  1. Babble, Earl. The Basics of Social Research. 3rd ed., Cengage Learning, 2017.
  2. Ruel, Erin E., et al. The Practice of Survey Research: Theory and Applications. Sage Publications, Inc., 2016.
  3. Vannette, David L., and Jon A. Krosnick. The Palgrave Handbook of Survey Research. Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

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