15 Survey distribution methods

Learning Objectives

By the end of this chapter, students must be able to:

  • differentiate between the different methods available to collect survey data
  • understand the pros and cons of each survey distribution method

Source: Elon University Poll Elon University Poll, 2014, Methods of collecting survey data,27 Sep, online video, viewed 4 April 2022, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cuOyAR-Y9I>.

Survey Distribution for Data Collection

There can be a number of ways surveys can be distributed for collecting data. These are the most commonly used methods.

Choosing a Data Collection Method

A number of factors may play a role in selecting the most appropriate data collection method(s). These are discussed below:



Organisations have tight deadlines to meet. Researchers are under pressure to provide information. This often means that only those methods (such as an online survey or a telephone interview) can be used for data collection which has a quick turnaround. More traditional methods, such as in-home surveys are not appropriate at this stage.



The researcher has to keep in mind the funds available. In case there is a big budget for research, then it is quite feasible to employ field workers who collect data in malls, offices, or homes. If there is a limited budget, then the researcher may have to rely on survey distribution modes that are cost-efficient, such as hosting the survey on the company's social media platform.

Access to Population Groups:

The quickest and most cost-effective data collection method becomes useless if the right population group cannot be reached. This is one of the key points which needs to be considered while selecting a method to distribute a survey questionnaire. A group of university students in Iran could be accessible using in-person methods, while in Australia alternative strategies may need to be employed.

Suitability (for Research Aim):

If a survey is designed so respondents can view certain images, then a telephone interview may not be an appropriate method. Similarly, if a questionnaire expects respondents to access a link or a website, it is important that the right data collection methods are employed.



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