Qualitative surveys use open-ended questions to produce long-form written/typed answers. Questions will aim to reveal opinions, experiences, narratives or accounts. Often a useful precursor to interviews or focus groups as they help identify initial themes or issues to then explore further in the research. Surveys can be used iteratively, being changed and modified over the course of the research to elicit new information.
Structured Interviews may follow a similar form of open questioning.
Qualitative surveys frequently include quantitative questions to establish elements such as age, nationality etc.
Qualitative surveys aim to elicit a detailed response to an open-ended topic question in the participant’s own words. Like quantitative surveys, there are three main methods for using qualitative surveys including face to face surveys, phone surveys, and online surveys. Each method of surveying has strengths and limitations.
Face to face surveys
Qualitative surveys can help a study early on, in finding out the issues/needs/experiences to be explored further in an interview or focus group.
Surveys can be amended and re-run based on responses providing an evolving and responsive method of research.
Online surveys will receive typed responses reducing translation by the researcher
Online surveys can be delivered broadly across a wide population with asynchronous delivery/response.
Hand-written notes will need to be transcribed (time-consuming) for digital study and kept physically for reference.
Distance (or online) communication can be open to misinterpretations that cannot be corrected at the time.
Questions can be leading/misleading, eliciting answers that are not core to the research subject. Researchers must aim to write a neutral question which does not give away the researchers expectations.
Even with transcribed/digital responses analysis can be long and detailed, though not as much as in an interview.
Surveys may be left incomplete if performed online or taken by research assistants not well trained in giving the survey/structured interview.
Narrow sampling may skew the results of the survey.
Here are some example survey questions which are open ended and require a long form written response:
Below has more detail of the Lancet article including actual survey questions at: