Surveys represent one of the most common types of quantitative, social science research. In survey research, the researcher selects a sample of respondents from a population and administers a standardized questionnaire to them. The questionnaire, or survey, can be a written document that is completed by the person being surveyed, an online questionnaire, a face-to-face interview, or a telephone interview. Using surveys, it is possible to collect data from large or small populations (sometimes referred to as the universe of a study).
Different types of surveys are actually composed of several research techniques, developed by a variety of disciplines. For instance, interview began as a tool primarily for psychologists and anthropologists, while sampling got its start in the field of agricultural economics (Angus and Katona, 1953, p. 15).
Survey research does not belong to any one field and it can be employed by almost any discipline. According to Angus and Katona, "It is this capacity for wide application and broad coverage which gives the survey technique its great usefulness..." (p. 16).