Difference between questionnaire and interview schedules




Both questionnaire and schedule are popularly used methods of collecting data in research surveys. There is much resemblance in the nature of these two methods and this fact has made many people remark that from a practical point of view, the two methods can be taken to be the same. But from the technical point of view, there is a difference between the two. The important points of difference are as under:

1. The questionnaire is generally sent through the mail to informants to be answered as specified in a covering letter, but otherwise without further assistance from the sender. The schedule is generally filled out by the research worker or the enumerator, who can interpret questions when necessary
2. To collect data through the questionnaire is relatively cheap and economical since we have to spend money only on preparing the questionnaire and in mailing the same to respondents. Here no field staff required. To collect data through schedules is relatively more expensive since a considerable amount of money has to be spent in appointing enumerators and in importing training to them. Money is also spent in preparing schedules.
3. Non-response is usually high in case of questionnaire as many people do not respond and many return the questionnaire without answering all questions. Bias due to non-response often remain indeterminate. As against this, non-response is generally very low in case of schedules because these are filled by enumerators who are able to get answers to all questions. But there remains the danger of interviewer bias and cheating.
4. In case of a questionnaire, it is not always clear as to who replies, but in case of schedule, the identity of respondent is known.
5. The questionnaire method is likely to be very slow since many respondents do not return the questionnaire in time despite several reminders, but in case of schedules, the information is collected well in time as they are filled in by enumerators.
6. Personal contact is generally not possible in case of the questionnaire method as questionnaires are sent to respondents by post who also, in turn, return the same by post. But in case of schedules, direct personal contact is established with respondents.

7. The questionnaire method can be used only when respondents are literate and cooperative, but in case of schedules the information can be gathered even when the respondents happen to be illiterate.
8. Wider and more representative distribution of the sample is possible under the questionnaire method, but in respect of schedules there usually remains the difficulty in sending enumerators over a relatively wider area.
9. The risk of collecting incomplete and wrong information is relatively more under the questionnaire method, particularly when people are unable to understand questions properly. But in case of schedules, the information collected is generally complete and accurate as enumerators can remove the difficulties, if any, faced by respondents in correctly understanding the questions. As a result, the information collected through schedules is relatively more accurate than that obtained through questionnaires.
10. The success of questionnaire method lies more on the quality of the questionnaire itself, but in the case of schedules much depends upon the honesty and competence of enumerators.
11. In order to attract the attention of respondents, the physical appearance of questionnaire must be quite attractive, but this may not be so in case of schedules as they are to be filled in by enumerators and not by respondents.
12. Along with schedules, the observation method can also be used but such a thing is not possible while collecting data through questionnaires.

Book chapter : Research Methodology (New age international Publishers ) by C.R. Kothari

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