A survey is a tool that is commonly used when carrying out human research. It is usually used to extract data from a predefined group of people.

Surveys are often used to assess emotions, thoughts and feelings of the respondents. It can be specific and limited, or more general and widespread—depending on the researcher and purpose of the survey.

When researchers evaluates a survey taken over a sample population which is usually part of a larger population, it can be used to make predictions on the larger population. Such predictions may be wrong in some cases, but they are legitimate statistical procedures.

What is a Survey?  

A survey is a research tool that uses questionnaires to collect data from a predefined group of respondents, and analyzing those responses to discover trends and make future predictions. It consists of a predetermined set of questions given to a sample of a large population.

There are a variety of uses for surveys, which can be carried out in different ways depending on the methodology and purpose of research. Some of the uses of surveys are; behavioural analysis, customer service, competitive analysis, etc.

The need to obtain facts about a research topic is what leads us to carry out a survey. These facts are obtained through standard procedures that ensures each response is unbiased.


Types of Survey  

There are various types of surveys, where the classification is based on 3 main factors, namely:

  1. Survey Type Based on Data Collection Methods
  2. Survey Type Based on Time/Frequency
  3. Industry Based Surveys 

Types of Survey Based on Data Collection Methods

1. Online Surveys

Online survey consists of questions that can be easily deployed as a link sent through emails, WhatsApp, added to the website, etc. Online surveys have seen a rise in their usage due to the advent of technology.

You can increase your survey response rate with Formplus online survey templates. These templates make administering online surveys easier.


  • It is easier to share with respondents than offline surveys.
  • It is cheaper and less time-consuming.


  • Only people with an internet connection can carry out this survey.
  • The link can easily be sent by a 3rd party to the wrong respondent. Therefore, corrupting the researcher’s data.

2. Offline Surveys

Offline surveys use is administered without the use of the internet. Offline surveys are the traditional way of carrying out surveys.

The advent of technology has made it easier and created more methods of carrying out offline surveys. They are mostly carried out by meeting with the researcher in person or having voice calls.

There are 4 main divisions of offline surveys namely:

a. Paper-Based Survey

As the name implies, paper-based surveys are carried out using the traditional pencil and paper approach. This approach requires physical manpower that involves deploying people to share papers to respondents and having them fill it out. The good part is that they can go where devices like laptops, tablets, etc. can’t go.


  • If is quite handy and can even be used for field research.
  • Meeting with the researcher in person encourages the respondents fill out paper based survey


  • It is quite expensive and time-consuming.
  • The papers might get lost or damaged. Therefore, losing the data collected. 
b. Telephone Surveys ( Calls & SMS surveys)

This survey type involves researchers conducting phone interviews. They reach out to the respondents via phone call, ask them some set of predefined questions and record these responses.

Telephone surveys are commonly used for the first interview stage of job interviews. The HR representative calls the applicant to get more information about them after they must have passed the first screening phase.


  • Respondents are able to freely express their emotions.
  • The phone calls can be recorded and kept for future purposes.


  • May require manpower to call multiple respondents and transcribe their responses.
  • It is quite expensive and time-consuming.
c. Mobile Offline Surveys

The mobile offline survey is used to collect data in remote locations or places without a reliable internet connection. It can also act as a backup to the standard online forms especially in cases where you have unreliable WiFi, such as large conferences and field surveys.

Using a conversational SMS-like feature, it collects data without an internet connection. This feature is currently available as a beta release on Formplus.


  • It is time and cost-effective.


  • It may not be the best for public surveys.
d. One-on-One Interview

A one-on-one interview is a face-to-face conversation between 2 sets of people with the sole purpose of collecting relevant information that satisfies a research purpose. The 2 sets of individuals involved in an interview are the interviewer and the interviewee. 

We use the term, “sets of people” in this definition because the interviewers and interviewees may be more than 1. Some of the tools used for one-on-one interviews are audio recorded, digital cameras, camcorder, etc.


  • Respondents’ emotions and expressions are recorded.
  • They can be recorded and kept for future purposes.


  • Requires a lot of manpower
  • Quite expensive and time-consuming. 

Types of Survey Based on Time/Frequency

1. Longitudinal Survey

Longitudinal surveys are those surveys that span a very long period of time. They employ continuous observation measures of collecting the data of an individual for as long as a decade or more. 

There are three main types of longitudinal surveys, namely; trend surveys, panel surveys, and cohort surveys.

a. Trend surveys

This survey type is deployed by researchers to understand the shift or transformation in the thought process of respondents over a period of time. They are administered to investigate the changes and the factors that influenced these changes in people’s inclination over a long while.

Researchers study how respondents made decisions in the past, how they are making decisions now and use the information to predict what decisions they will make in the future.

For example, a media company may carry out research about the political party people have been voting for the past ten years and use this information to predict the outcome of the next election.


  • It covers a large population


  • The trends may be random, making it difficult to make correct predictions.
b. Panel Survey

In panel survey type, investigations are carried out on a sample population from a larger population of potential subjects of study. Panel surveys are administered to the same set or group of people, known as the panel over the years. 

Mostly designed for quantitative analysis, they are expensive in nature and researchers to try to stick to their panel to gather unbiased opinions.


  • They are more specific 


  • They are expensive 
c. Cohort survey

A cohort survey is carried out on a group of people with similar experiences. This group is usually called a cohort. For example, a study may be carried out on the first cohort of a code boot camp to see how far the participants would have gone in their careers after 10 years.

Things like the kind of projects they embarked on at a point in time, positions they held, companies they worked for, etc. will be studied. 

When carrying out a cohort survey, people are categorized depending on whether meet certain criteria. It is not necessary that the same people will form a group, however, people forming a group should have certain similarities.

2. Retrospective Survey

A retrospective survey is a type of survey in which respondents are asked to narrate events that occurred in the past. Unlike longitudinal surveys, this type of survey does not involve browsing through past resources to gather information about research.

Rather, it deploys the research method that involves getting information directly from the subject who experienced the event. This way researchers can save the cost and time required, unlike longitudinal surveys.


  • Cost-effective.


  • The subject might exaggerate events or hold back some information during the interview process.

3. Cross-Sectional Surveys

Cross-sectional type surveys are administered to a small sample of a large population within a short time frame. It gives researchers a brief account of the respondent’s view at that given time.

These surveys are usually brief, quick to answer and measure the respondent’s opinion of a particular situation at a given time. This is quite the opposite of longitudinal surveys, as it is taken over a small sample and measured over a short period of time.

For example, consider a study into the race that are prone to skin cancer in America. By choosing a sample to obtain cross-sectional data, it is indicated that skin cancer is prevalent in white people.

The researcher may choose to dwell deeper into research by deploying a longitudinal survey.


  • It is time and cost-effective.


  • The conclusion arrived at during this study is more prone to be incorrect.

Types of Survey Based on Industry + [Survey Template Examples]

Organizations and businesses in different industries are known to conduct regular surveys. These surveys are used to improve their overall service and better satisfy customers.

There are different types of surveys, specifically used in different industries depending on the business needs. The different types of survey also include some general survey types that are common to all industries. 

Some of the industry-based survey types we have are; satisfaction surveys, employee surveys, demographic survey,s and evaluation surveys.

1. Satisfaction Surveys

Satisfaction surveys are usually sent to customers immediately after using a service or a little while after purchasing a product. It takes a while for organizations to reach out to a customer after purchasing their product so as to give the customer enough time to use the products and give feedback.


They are used to get information on whether customers are satisfied with the product sold or service rendered by an organization. Here are some types of satisfaction survey templates;

  • Student Satisfaction Survey Template: Getting feedback on student satisfaction will help create better learning conditions for the students and help boost future enrollment. This simple student satisfaction survey template from Formplus can be modified to portray your school identity and used to gather thoughts on student welfare, courses, teachers, etc.
  • Customer Satisfaction Survey Template: Keep in touch with your customers after selling them your product or service. Send them a customer satisfaction survey to know whether they are satisfied with your service or not. Customize this customer satisfaction template or create your own so you can be informed on how to better satisfy customers.
  • Event Satisfaction Survey Template: This Event Satisfaction Survey Template can be used to evaluate how participants feel about the overall event. You can get specific insights about the different aspects of the event, like food, the caliber of attendees, panel sessions, etc.
  • Employee Satisfaction Survey: Happy employees are the key to improving productivity and acquiring employee loyalty. Use the employee satisfaction survey to find out whether your employees are happy with their jobs.

This survey should be anonymous so as to encourage employees to express their feelings.

  • Restaurant Satisfaction Survey: Running a restaurant? Improve service experience by getting feedback from your customers with a restaurant satisfaction survey template. You can embed this survey template on your websites, and even make it accessible in your restaurant for customers to fill immediately after their meal.


2. Employee Surveys

Companies use employee surveys to get feedback on various issues relating to the employees. They are used at different stages of an employee’s career with the company.

For example, the employee referral form is used by a 3rd party when referring a potential employee to an organization, while the employee exit survey is used when the employee terminates his/her contract with the company.

Here are some types of Employee Survey Type Templates: 

  • Employment Exit Survey Template: Companies conduct interviews at the end of an employee’s contract. Usually called the employee exit interviews, they are useful in getting feedback about the company culture. 

The responses made by employees are needed to help improve the company’s work culture. These responses are captured using the employee exit survey.

  • Employee Referral Form Template: Get employee referrals from your professional network using this employee referral form template by Formplus. Easily get assistance on the perfect placement for the vacant roles in your organization by allowing recommendations from industry-trusted experts. Get started now with this online employee referral form template
  • Employee Suggestion Form Template: Allow your employees to easily make suggestions to top-level management on issues affecting staff productivity. This employee suggestion form will help breach the gap between low-level employees and senior executives.
  • Annual Employee Review Form Template: Get all the necessary feedback on employee job performance needed to make annual promotions. The annual employee review form template by Formplus contains well-sectioned questions which make it easy for managers to review employees.
  • Employee Review Form Template: The employee review form is similar to the annual employee review form. The difference is that the latter is done annually. 

3. Demographic Survey Types

Demographic surveys are used to collect the personal data of respondents. It gives insights into respondents’ age, gender or marital status. 

The information gathered from this survey can provide details about users that other question types might fail to achieve.

A demographic survey can be used to collect data on —age, gender, marital status, work status, household income, level of education, ethnicity, etc. It is basically used to collect any data relevant to your study or research.

4. Evaluation Survey Types

Evaluation surveys are commonly used by organizations to assess a situation or the respondents in order to arrive at a certain conclusion. They are used in different industries but are deployed with similar intentions, which is to assess.

Here are some types of Employee Survey Type Templates

  • Course Evaluation Form Template: With a course evaluation form, you can measure a student’s degree of understanding of a particular course. The feedback received through this survey will be analyzed to better understand how to communicate with students and prepare a curriculum that is perfect for their intelligence level.
  • Employee Evaluation Form Template: Review employee’s daily, monthly or annual performance with an employee evaluation survey. This survey template helps HR personnel make better decisions regarding promotions, bonuses, salary increments, etc. 

It can be used to improve employee productivity by identifying training needs, providing clear communication for work responsibilities, and improving the company work culture. 

  • Interview Evaluation Form Template: Find better candidates for your organization’s job openings with this interview evaluation form template. This form template assists recruitment agencies with data management and helps companies find the best candidate for a specific role.
  • Teacher Evaluation Survey Template: Ensure that the students always have a great learning experience by ensuring that the teachers are well invested in the teaching process. Students are always at the receiving end, and should, therefore, be given the chance to evaluate a teacher’s performance in the classroom.
  • Training Evaluation Form Template: If you want to receive feedback regarding employee training, student training, course, etc., you should get a training evaluation form. This evaluation form will help improve the training process in the future.

Can’t find your preferred survey form template? Signup for free to create beautiful online surveys with Formplus.


Surveys are a very broad data collection and analysis tool. They are used for various purposes in research, marketing, product development, brand communication, etc. 

There are different ways in which surveys can be distributed, depending on the basis of the research project. Some of the factors that play a part in the mode of distribution of these surveys include; cost, research study type, the flexibility of questions, time to collect responses, statistical analysis to be run on data and willingness of the respondent to take part in the survey.

  • busayo.longe
  • on 13 min read


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