Difference Between Experiment and Survey

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: June 06, 2023


Difference Between Experiment and Survey

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Primary data is defined as data that was originally collected; in other words, data that was obtained for the first time. Surveys and experiments constitute the two key statistical procedures used in data collection and study. Experiments are regarded as an important source of primary data when the study type is experimental. On the other hand, they are used when the study is qualitative in character.

While surveys gathered information from informants, experiments used the trial-and-error method to test various premises. Peek at this article to learn the difference between a survey and an experiment.

Difference Between Experiment and Survey in Tabular Form

MEANINGIt refers to the method of testing something practically using a scientific procedure/approach and seeing the results.It refers to a method of getting information from people about a variable under investigation.
USED INExperiments are carried out in the case of experimental research.In the case of descriptive research, surveys are done.
OBJECTIVECreate a chain of cause-and-effect relationships.Gather information and investigate phenomena.
SAMPLESThese studies often have a smaller sample size.These studies typically feature bigger sample sizes.
MANIPULATEThe researcher can modify the variable or cause events to occur.The surveyor does not alter the variable or arrange events.
DATA COLLECTIONControlled observations yield quantitative data.Questionnaires/interviews were used to collect self-reported data.
LABORATORY REQUIREMENTDuring an experiment, laboratory equipment is typically used in a variety of activities.In surveys, laboratory equipment is not required, or only a limited amount of equipment is required to obtain any sample of data.
TIMEFRAMEPre/post testing within a specific timeframeA single point in time or a series of intervals
SUITABLE FORNatural and physical sciencesBehavioral and social sciences.
EXPENSEExperiments are more expensive than surveys.Surveys are less expensive to conduct than experiments.

What Is an Experiment?

The term experiment refers to a scientific technique that is systematic and logical in which any number of independent variables under test are altered, and any change in one or more dependent variables is measured while correcting for the effect of the extraneous variable. Extraneous variables are independent variables that are unrelated to the study's purpose but may influence test unit response.

In an experiment, the researcher seeks to intentionally examine the outcome of his experiment to test the hypothesis, find something, or show a known fact. The experiment's goal is to draw conclusions about the factor of the subject group and generalize from the sample to the larger population of interest.

Characteristics of Experiment

The methods of analysis used in experimental research give it distinct qualities.

Dependent and independent variables: All experimental research begins with dependent or fixed variables (which act as a control group). These must be compared with independent variables, which are the factors that the researcher controls to achieve certain results.

Controlled conditions: The experiments are conducted under strictly controlled conditions to determine the factors that influence the behavior of the object of investigation.

Variable manipulation: The experiment is initiated or triggered by the researcher, who actively controls the independent variables to achieve a variety of findings, always within controlled and rigorous settings.

Observation of the subject under consideration: The researcher must monitor the object of study's behavior in each of the situations created for it to gather less or more conclusive data.

Types of Experimental Design

The way the researcher distributes people among various conditions and groups determines the types of experimental study designs. They are classified into three types: pre-experimental, quasi-experimental, and actual experimental research.

1. Design of Pre-Experimental Research

In a pre-experimental study design, one or more dependent groups are watched for the effect of a variable that is independent that is assumed to affect change. It is the most basic type of experimental study design and has no control group.

Although extremely useful, experimental research falls short in multiple domains of the true-experimental requirements. There are three sorts of pre-experimental research designs.

  • Case Study Research Design in a Single Shot: Only one reliant group or variable is investigated in this form of experimental study. The study is conducted after some therapy that is expected to create modifications, which renders it a follow-up study.
  • One-group Pretest-Posttest Research Design: This research design incorporates both posttest and pretest studies by administering a test to a single group both before and after treatment. The former is given at the start of treatment and the latter at the end.
  • Static-group Comparison: In a static-group comparative study, two or more groups are observed, with only one of the groups receiving treatment and the others remaining static. All of the groupings are post-tested, and any observed variations among the groups are attributed to the treatment.

2. Design of a Quasi-experimental Study

The term "quasi" denotes "partial, half, or false." As a result, quasi-experimental research resembles but is not the same as actual experimental research.  Because participants in quasi-experiments are not assigned at random, they are employed in situations where randomization is problematic or impossible.

This is prevalent in educational research, as administrators are hesitant to allow students to be chosen at random for experimental samples. Time series, no corresponding control group, and counterbalanced designs are all instances of quasi-experimental research designs.

3. True Experimental Research Methodology

To verify or reject a theory, a proper experimental study design depends on statistical analysis. It is the most accurate sort of experimental design and can be performed on at least two randomly assigned dependent individuals with or without a pretest.

A real research methodology must include a group to serve as a control, a variable that can be modified by the researcher, and a random distribution. True experimental design is classified as follows:

  • The posttest-only Control Group Design: In this design, individuals are chosen at random and assigned to one of two groups (control or experimental), with only the experimental group receiving treatment. Both sets are post-tested after close observation, and a conclusion is reached based on the differences between these groups.
  • The pretest-posttest Control Group Design: In this control group design, individuals are randomly assigned to one of two groups, both of which are presented, but only one is treated. Following attentive observation, both sets are post-tested to determine the level of change in each.
  • Solomon four-group Design: The Solomon four-group design combines the pretest-only and pretest-post-control groups. In this scenario, the subjects are divided into four groups at random.

The first two groups undergo evaluation using the posttest-only approach, whereas the other two use the pretest-posttest method.

What Is Survey?

By survey, we imply a means of obtaining information on the variable under research from all or a particular amount of universe respondents. A sample survey or a poll conducted by them could be used. This strategy is based on interrogating informants about a specific topic. An organized form of data collecting is used in surveys, in which an official survey is developed, and questions are posed in a set order.

Through observation, speaking directly with them over the phone/mail, or through physical interviews, informants are asked questions about their behaviour, attitude, motivation, demographic, and lifestyle traits, among other things. Questions are asked to responders verbally, rather than in writing or by computer. The respondents' responses are received in the same format.

Characteristics of Survey

Data Collection: Surveys collect data using one's own reporting methods, in which participants respond to a series of questions. Data can be collected using a variety of methods, including questionnaires, interviews, phone surveys, internet forms, and mail surveys.

Standardization: To maintain uniformity in data gathering, surveys frequently use standardized questionnaires or interview techniques. This reduces prejudice and enables valid comparisons between respondents.

Sampling: In most surveys, a sample is drawn from an objective population. Depending on the research aims and available resources, various sampling strategies such as random sample, stratified sampling, sampling clusters, or convenience sampling can be used.

Large Sample Sizes: Surveys frequently seek data from an extensive sample of respondents to improve the generalizability of findings and the statistical validity of the results.

Question Design: In surveys, creating well-designed questions is critical. Depending on the study aims and the sort of data required, researchers utilize various question forms such as multiple-choice, Likert scales, open-ended, or rating scales.

Flexibility: Surveys provide administrative flexibility. Depending on the target audience and the study context, they can be conducted in a variety of venues, such as face-to-face interviews, telephone conversations, internet surveys, or paper-based questionnaires.

Subjective Data: Surveys generally collect subjective data, which reflects respondents' opinions, beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, or experiences. This subjective data provides insights into people's viewpoints and enables a more in-depth comprehension of the research issue.

Advantages of Survey

  • It is relatively simple to administer.
  • It can be created in less time than other data-collection methods.
  • Cost-effective, but costs vary according to survey style.
  • Remote administration is possible via online, mobile devices, mail, email, kiosk, or phone.
  • Remote operations can minimize or eliminate geographical dependence.
  • Capable of gathering information from a huge number of respondents.
  • Numerous questions regarding a subject can be asked, providing significant flexibility in data processing.
  • Advanced statistical approaches, such as the capacity to analyze many variables, can be used with survey software to analyze survey data to assess validity, reliability, and statistical significance.
  • A wide range of data can be gathered (for example, attitudes, opinions, beliefs, values, behaviour, and facts).
  • Several sorts of errors are rare in standardized surveys.

Disadvantages of Survey

The following factors may influence the dependability of survey data:

  • Respondents might not be motivated to deliver accurate, truthful replies.
  • Respondents might not be comfortable offering answers that portray them negatively.
  • Respondents may be unaware of their motivations for any particular response due to a lack of recollection of the issue or simply boredom.
  • Closed-ended questions in surveys may have a validity rate that is lower than other question categories.
  • Data inaccuracies may occur because of query non-response. The number of respondents who reply to a survey question could vary from those who do not respond, resulting in bias.
  • Because certain answer alternatives may be viewed differently by respondents, survey question answer options may result in ambiguous data. For example, the response option "somewhat agree" may imply various things to different people and have a distinct meaning for each individual reply.  Answer alternatives of 'yes' or 'no' might also be troublesome. Respondents may choose "no" if the option "only once" is unavailable.
  • Customized surveys are more likely to contain specific sorts of errors.

Main Differences Between the Experiment and the Survey in Points

The distinctions between survey and experiment are obvious on the following grounds:

  • A survey is a method of acquiring information about a variable within a study from the general population. An experiment is a scientific technique in which the factor under research is isolated to test a hypothesis.
  • Surveys are used while conducting descriptive research, whereas experiments are used when conducting experimental research.
  • The survey samples are big since the response rate is low, particularly when the survey is administered through a mailed questionnaire. In the case of experiments, however, the number of samples required is rather minimal.
  • Surveys are seen to be appropriate for social and behavioural science. Experiments, on the other hand, are a significant feature of physical and biological sciences.
  • Field research is research that is undertaken outside of a laboratory or workplace. Surveys are the most common type of field research. An experiment, on the other hand, is an instance of a laboratory study. Laboratory research is simply research conducted inside a room outfitted with scientific equipment and instruments.
  • The data collection methods used in surveys can include observation, interview, questionnaire, or case study. In contrast to an experiment, data is gathered by many readings of the experiment.


While surveys investigate the possibility of a relationship between data and an unknown variable, experiments establish the association. Furthermore, correlation analysis is critical in surveys, as the researcher's goal is in understanding and regulating correlations between variables in both social and business surveys. In contrast to experiments, informal analysis is important.


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"Difference Between Experiment and Survey." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 13 May. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-experiment-and-survey>.

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