A common misconception that floats around leads many individuals to believe that questionnaires and surveys are one and the same. These words are called synonyms while the meaning behind the two terms is actually, quite different. Let?s debunk the misconception and find out what?s what.
What are questionnaires and surveys and how do they differ?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary of the English language describes a questionnaire as ?a set of questions for obtaining statistically useful or personal information from individuals?. Well, what is a survey, then? The same dictionary states that a survey is an act or an instance of surveying a broad treatment of a subject or polling. So surveying would mean putting a questionnaire or a thesis out for the public or audience to complete and analysing the gathered answers. However, it seems like the terms are closely intertwined, right?
The truth is, the main difference lies in a small, yet crucial detail. A questionnaire can only be a part of the survey, never the other way around. When questionnaires and surveys are discussed, only the former can be a part of the latter and not vice versa.
For simplification reasons, let?s use an analogue example. The questionnaire is a stand of a farmer selling apples, and the survey is the fruit market.