A survey is a measurement procedure that asks answers of respondents while a questionnaire is a type of survey, which is the most commonly used research tool in applied social research. Surveys are generally divided into two broad categories: questionnaires and interviews.
With surveys, researchers are able to gather a large number of responses to specific questions in order to perform analyses that identify patterns and relationships among variables. Surveys are non-experimental instruments designed to gather quantitative data. Use of surveys is particularly advantageous in gathering information that can not be directly observed, such as respondents' opinions on a topic.
Questionnaires usually are distributed to a large group of people. This survey instrument typically contains mostly close-ended questions or questions that involve a scaled response. Questionnaires may also include open-ended questions.
Questionnaires may be distributed through the postal mail, electronically, via an online survey site, in person or at a standalone kiosk.
Disadvantages in choosing a questionnaire as the survey method include literacy and comprehension limitations of the respondents, possible low response rates and challenges in constructing useful questions and answer options. Another disadvantage with closed-ended questionnaire questions is the limited range of responses allowed, which often neglects nuances in respondents' opinions.