The terms ‘questionnaire’ and ‘survey’ are often used interchangeably and one might think that it means the same thing. A questionnaire consist of a list of questions which are used to find out what one thinks about a particular topic. A survey is also a way to find out what people’s opinions are on a certain situation but here lies the difference: A questionnaire is a tool which can be used by anyone, a person or an organization for personal or research purposes and can be answered by only one person.

On the other hand, a survey is always on a larger scale, as the opinions of a group of people belonging to a particular section is sought through a questionnaire. Thus a questionnaire is more like a tool whereas a survey is more part of a methodology and contains more than a questionnaire as it also includes deduction, analysis, graphics etc.

The following points will make the difference between a questionnaire and a survey clearer:

  • A survey is the process by which one forms an opinion about a certain section of people, their likes, dislikes and preferences, whereas, a questionnaire is the means or tool used to reach this goal. For example, a questionnaire is part of the survey or it can exist by itself, but in order to make a survey successful one shall always need a questionnaire of any form or size to understand the opinions of the sample respondents.
  • A survey describes a particular aspect of a certain group of people and the questionnaire is the instrument which helps one get the opinions of the people.
  • A survey is a concept which is more abstract in nature as it involves forming opinions about people and writing it down in record form. But a questionnaire is more of a tangible physical aspect as it has the specific questions that are asked to the people who give their responses regarding a certain topic.
  • Surveys have a bigger scope as they are aimed at finding out the opinions of a large section of people. On the other hand, a questionnaire can be used either for the purpose of a survey or can be targeted to only one person.
  • Surveys usually have a greater interest in mind and have a commercial, corporate, research or educational purpose. A questionnaire can be used for all those purpose but it can also be used for personal purposes to find out about someone’s likes and dislikes.
  • A questionnaire is formatted like a form with a list of questions which will help on gain knowledge and information. But the meaning of a survey goes beyond that as it consists of a questionnaire and also involves a more detailed critical inspection, a descriptive summary of the situation or topic and the process of deducing, analyzing and observing.
  • Although questionnaires are available online nowadays, they generally refer to paper questionnaires or a hard copy and on the other hand, surveys may be conducted through a phone, face to face, through the internet or through paper.