The purpose of a survey is to obtain standardised, quantifiable information from a defined group of people, usually through use of a questionnaire. Although the questionnaire may be administered to the entire population, as in a census, it is more usual to select a sample of people. The data obtained is then analysed, using statistical techniques, to produce information which can be tested against hypotheses.
A survey is a quantitative method of research that aims to generalise from a hypothesis to a population as a whole. The rigour with which a survey has been designed, administered and analysed is, therefore, crucial in appraising the validity of its results. This section presents an overview of how surveys are conducted, from sampling techniques, administration and questionnaire design to attitude measurement, coding of responses and analysis.