A common method of collecting data for a survey is to use a questionnaire. Questionnaires take many forms, and are carried out using a variety of methods.

Methods of collecting data

face-to-face, phone and post

Methods of collecting data

The four main methods of collecting data are:

  1. face to face
  2. by phone
  3. by post
  4. via the internet

There are advantages and disadvantages to using each of these methods. One might be better suited to a particular survey than another.

Try this sample question to help you think about these different ways to collect data.


Write down the advantages and disadvantages of carrying out a face-to-face interview.

toggle answer



  1. The interviewee is much more likely to answer the questions than if they had to post their responses.
  2. The interviewer can ask more complex questions.
  3. The interviewer can explain the questions, if necessary.
  4. The interviewer is likely to be more consistent when they record the responses.


  1. This method of interviewing takes a lot of time, and might be expensive.
  2. The interviewee is more likely to lie or refuse to answer a question.

Types of question

Questionnaires can include:

  1. yes/no answers
  2. tick boxes
  3. numbered responses
  4. word responses
  5. questions which require a sentence to be written

Whichever style (or styles) of questions you use, it is important that they are easy to understand, cover every possible answer, are unbiased (they do not lead respondents to give a particular answer) and unambiguous (they have a clear meaning). You must also ensure that they are appropriate to your survey.

Poor questionnaire questions

How a question is phrased is very important, so it is useful to be able to spot a bad one.

Have a look at the following questions. Can you spot any problems with them?


You support Arsenal, don't you?

toggle answer


This is a biased question. The interviewee might feel pressurised into saying 'yes'. A better question would be: 'Which football team, if any, do you support?'


Are you a criminal?

toggle answer


It is unlikely that you will get a truthful answer to this, especially in a face-to-face interview!


Do you think maths is:

  1. a very interesting subject
  2. quite an interesting subject?

toggle answer


This is biased in favour of maths, and it does not cover every possible answer.

Back to Revision Bite