A list of some of the strengths/disadvantages of using surveys.
- Surveys are relatively inexpensive (especially self-administered surveys).
- Surveys are useful in describing the characteristics of a large population. No other method of observation can provide this general capability.
- They can be administered from remote locations using mail, email or telephone.
- Consequently, very large samples are feasible, making the results statistically significant even when analyzing multiple variables.
- Many questions can be asked about a given topic giving considerable flexibility to the analysis.
- There is flexibilty at the creation phase in deciding how the questions will be administered: as face-to-face interviews, by telephone, as group administered written or oral survey, or by electonic means.
- Standardized questions make measurement more precise by enforcing uniform definitions upon the participants.
- Standardization ensures that similar data can be collected from groups then interpreted comparatively (between-group study).
- Usually, high reliability is easy to obtain--by presenting all subjects with a standardized stimulus, observer subjectivity is greatly eliminated.
- A methodology relying on standardization forces the researcher to develop questions general enough to be minimally appropriate for all respondents, possibly missing what is most appropriate to many respondents.
- Surveys are inflexible in that they require the initial study design (the tool and administration of the tool) to remain unchanged throughout the data collection.
- The researcher must ensure that a large number of the selected sample will reply.
- It may be hard for participants to recall information or to tell the truth about a controversial question.
- As opposed to direct observation, survey research (excluding some interview approaches) can seldom deal with "context."