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 it 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? Here you will find the pros and cons explained:


  • It 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.


  • 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, it is of little use.
  • You can ask a limited number of questions, as response rates drop the more extended the questionnaire is.

In conclusion, questionnaires can be a valuable research tool when applied correctly and when the research objectives align with the method's strengths. They are particularly useful for gathering data from a large and diverse audience, enabling researchers to make generalizations and perform in-depth statistical analyses. However, the limitations of questionnaires, such as potential response bias, inability to probe underlying motivations, and low response rates, should be carefully considered. Depending on the research goals, it may be necessary to complement questionnaire data with other research methods, such as interviews or focus groups, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the target group's opinions and motivations

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Claudia's heart is in research. With her passion, she enjoys enthusing others about research. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience. Claudia works and lives in the Netherlands, where she has been helping students and beginning researchers with research for years. Through blogs, but also with e-books, e-courses, and coaching. The first blogs are now translated into English to help more students and beginning researchers.
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