Difference between Polls and Surveys
Key difference: Polls and surveys are two different methods that can be used to obtain information. They are usually utilized by researchers to gauge opinions and receive feedback. Essentially, the main difference between the two is the fact that a poll is small, simple and quick. Whereas, a survey can be slightly long, open-ended and time-consuming.
Polls and surveys are two different methods that can be used to obtain information. They are usually utilized by researchers to gauge opinions and receive feedback. Essentially, the main difference between the two is the fact that a poll is small, simple and quick. Whereas, a survey can be slightly long, open-ended and time-consuming.
A poll usually consists of a single multiple choice question with two or three answer choices. However, it can be longer if required. These days polls are everywhere, on news sites, sport sites, entertainment websites, etc. They are often located on the side or under the article, asking questions such as ‘What do you think of this site?’ or ‘Who do you think wore it better?’ or ‘Who do you think will win the game?’
Surveys are more comprehensive than polls. They usually have a number of questions and are more often than not open-ended. They have as low as one question; however, they usually have more questions. This is usually because a survey is mainly used to gauge the opinion of the public on a broad topic or to gain detailed customer feedback, both of which may require a series of questions. They may include questions that are open-ended, multiple choice, on the basis of ranking (on a scale from 1-5, from Not Satisfied to Extremely Satisfied, from Not Happy to Very Happy, etc.), may ask to rearrange topics from Least Important to Most Important, or any combination thereof.
Both polls and surveys can be conducted via telephone, online, on paper or even in person. Still each type has its advantages and disadvantages. A poll is usually anonymous, as one may visit any site and take part in their online poll with just a click of their mouse. The site will usually not ask you any personal details. This is because the purpose of a poll is to get a general consensus of the people.
A survey, however, will usually ask one to give some information either before or after taking it, including but not limited to name, age, phone number, e-mail address, physical address, etc. This is mainly because a survey is usually conducted to get a detailed opinion of the product, website, etc and to get feedback. The information allows the researchers to contact the person in case of follow up questions.
However, due to this, a survey is usually long and time-consuming. So, most people are hesitant to take a survey. Also, many people are not comfortable about releasing personal information to somebody, especially a stranger. This leads to another problem, as only some people agree to take a survey, the survey results may not effectively give a general opinion or feedback. The results may be biased or skewed.
Furthermore, as surveys are longer, tend to consume time and man-power; they also tend to be more expensive than polls. Conducting a poll may take days, however, conducting a survey may take weeks or months.
Still, as the answers to polls are limited to the provided multiple choice options, the results are just a general overview. Here, the surveys have an advantage over the polls. The survey get more detailed answers to the questions and give a more comprehensive picture of the public opinion. The results of a survey may be analyzed using technique such as rating scales, rankings, open-ended questions, and so forth. Hence, the analysis of a survey projects can and often do require reports of 100 pages or more to fully explore all the findings. As opposed to the analysis of a poll that can be summarized in a couple of paragraphs, if not a few sentences.
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