Questionnaire as a research method: Advantages and disadvantages

A questionnaire is a commonly used research method to measure the effects of an activity, project, or program. The question is whether a questionnaire is always an appropriate method. Do you want to make statements about the entire target group and collect a lot of data? Then a questionnaire is a smart method. Do you want insight into the underlying motivations and opinions of your target group? Then a questionnaire is a less wise choice. Why is a questionnaire a good method, and why a less good method? The pros and cons explained:

Questionnaire

Pros:

  • A questionnaire allows you to survey a large group of people. This is necessary if you want the results of your research to be representative of the entire research group. You can then make statements like: '80% of the visitors say they learned something from the activity'.
  • An interviewer or observer cannot influence answers; this ensures objectivity.
  • The way of asking questions is standardized, ensuring unambiguous answers.
  • In-depth statistical analyses can be made, for example, to subgroups or to establish correlations.


Cons:

  • You have little influence on the response rate, often resulting in a relatively low response rate with this method.
  • The respondent cannot tell his story freely; the answers are primarily pre-programmed.
  • Respondents tend to answer socially appropriately, even when it is anonymous.
  • Underlying motivations are difficult to ascertain with a questionnaire, making the questions and answers superficial. There is no option for follow-up questions.
  • Respondents cannot complete the questionnaire. If they quit at the halfway point,  the questionnaire is of little use.
  • You can ask a limited number of questions, as response rates drop the more extended the questionnaire is.