You are on page 1of 3

Difference between Survey and Experiment

Primary data is described as a data

originally collected, in essence, the data gathered is afresh and for the first time. Surveys and
Experiments are two important statistical techniques used in research and data collection.
When the research type is experimental, experiments are considered as a major source of
primary data. On the other end, surveys are performed when the research is descriptive in
nature. This article attempts to shed light on the difference between surveys and experiment,
have a look.

Content: Survey Vs Experiment

1. Comparison Chart
2. Definition
3. Key Differences
4. Conclusion

Comparison Chart


Meaning Survey refers to a technique of gathering information regarding a variable under st

respondents of the population.

Used in Descriptive Research

Samples Large

Suitable for Social and Behavioral sciences

Example of Field research

Data collection Observation, interview, questionnaire, case study etc.

Definition of Survey

By the term survey, we mean a method of securing information relating to the variable under
study from all or a specified number of respondents of the universe. It may be a sample survey
or a census survey. This method relies on the questioning of the informants on a specific subject.
Survey follows structured form of data collection, in which a formal questionnaire is prepared,
and the questions are asked in a predefined order.

Informants are asked questions concerning their behaviour, attitude, motivation, demographic,
lifestyle characteristics, etc. through observation, direct communication with them over
telephone/mail or personal interview. Questions are asked verbally to the respondents, i.e. in
writing or by way of computer. The answer of the respondents is obtained in the same form.

Definition of Experiment

The term experiment means a systematic and logical scientific procedure in which one or more
independent variables under test are manipulated, and any change on one or more dependent
variable is measured while controlling for the effect of the extraneous variable. Here extraneous
variable is an independent variable which is not associated with the objective of study but may
affect the response of test units.

In an experiment, the investigator attempts to observe the outcome of the experiment conducted
by him intentionally, to test the hypothesis or to discover something or to demonstrate a known
fact. An experiment aims at drawing conclusions concerning the factor on the study group and
making inferences from sample to larger population of interest.
Key Differences Between Survey and Experiment
The differences between survey and experiment can be drawn clearly on the following grounds:

1. A technique of gathering information regarding a variable under study, from the

respondents of the population, is called survey. A scientific procedure wherein the factor
under study is isolated to test hypothesis is called an experiment.
2. Surveys are performed when the research is of descriptive nature, whereas in the case of
experiments are conducted in experimental research.
3. The survey samples are large as the response rate is low, especially when the survey is
conducted through mailed questionnaire. On the other hand, samples required in the
case of experiments is relatively small.
4. Surveys are considered suitable for social and behavioural science. As against this,
experiments are an important characteristic of physical and natural sciences.
5. Field research refers to the research conducted outside the laboratory or workplace.
Surveys are the best example of field research. On the contrary, Experiment is an
example of laboratory research. A laboratory research is nothing but research carried on
inside the room equipped with scientific tools and equipment.
6. In surveys, the data collection methods employed can either be observation, interview,
questionnaire, or case study. As opposed to experiment, the data is obtained through
several readings of the experiment.


While survey studies the possible relationship between data and unknown variable, experiments
determine the relationship. Further, Correlation analysis is vital in surveys, as in social and
business surveys, the interest of the researcher rests in understanding and controlling
relationships between variables. Unlike experiments, where casual analysis is significant.