Key Differences between Survey and Experiment Students Must Know


In research, the collection of data holds immense importance. This is because the findings of research help readers change their habits towards an issue. The governments make policies following the results of research as well. So we can say that data collection is the backbone of research. Now, you would be thinking about how a researcher can collect data. Survey and experiment are the two methods of data collection that you can use within this context. Researchers can use both methods to test a hypothesis, and to develop conclusions as well.

We know that both of the aforementioned methods are for data collection. A researcher has to use methods based on the nature of his research. Scientific studies employ the experimentation method. On the other hand, sociology, and psychological studies use survey methods used for the collection of data. But one must know the differences between both terms. Survey and experiment are two different methodologies for data collection. Hence a researcher must know the differences between them. Today’s article will discuss the differences between these two methods in detail. Before going into further details, let’s define both survey and experiment.


A survey refers to gathering information from a large number of respondents. And the variable in this method is one. All the participants, and respondents answer the same variable according to their understanding. It is also called secondary data, as the author is not directly involved. Surveys are carried out by maintaining a structured form of data collection.

The variable, or research question is the same for every participant. For example;

A survey among students about the new grading policy of Punjab.

Now every student will answer this question based on his/her understanding.


An experiment refers to something that has been done practically. The researcher uses scientific tools and procedures for conducting a study regarding this approach. The variables and factors in an experiment are also more than one. It is also a type of primary data collection method. This is because the researcher himself conducts experiments on an issue, and then gathers data as well. For example;

A study to map the groundwater changes in Punjab that happened in the last 10 years.

Now the students will collect different kinds of data on groundwater. This data will be from various districts of Punjab. So by following scientific procedures and tools, they will develop a conclusion, and give their recommendations as well.

After introducing both survey and experiment, you must have known that both terms are different. In this part of the article, we will talk about those differences. Hence, a brief description of significant differences is given by best dissertation writers as follows;

Source of Information

The first difference between survey and experiment is regarding source of information. Both are data collection methods, therefore both have different sources of information. The source of information for a survey is a large group of people. We can also call those people informants. The respondents provide information on a common topic, or issue. Most of the time, the general public is a source of information within a survey. In contrast, the experiment method gathers information by performing different scientific approaches. Labs, research centres, and fields are typical sources of information within this context.

Study Samples

The aspect of study samples is also a significant difference between survey and experiment. As survey collects responses from a huge number of people, the study samples are larger. Mainly, secondary data comprises larger study samples. Here the students have to study many responses before developing a conclusion. In the meantime, the experimental approach of research deals with smaller samples. The samples can be large if the research is extensive, and time-consuming. But most of the time, the study samples in a scientific study are small. The students have to complete their research within a set time frame.

Field of Study

One of the most significant differences lies in the fields of study. Both survey and experiment approaches have different fields. The sociology, and behavioural studies students use a survey approach for collecting data on an issue. Therefore, as the responses will be descriptive, a survey is the best choice for students. On the other hand, the domain of experiment lies in the field of physics and natural sciences. The students of these fields employ scientific tools and procedures for gathering data on various issues. Natural sciences can include fields like environmental, geology, and geographic studies. Thus, the focused field of study is also a significant difference within this context.


While conducting research, specific equipment and tools are required. The survey approach doesn’t require any equipment. For this the student needs to make an account on a survey website, and create survey based on the research questions. But it’s not that simple in the case of the experimental approach. This is because students have to use special standard equipment to perform a test in an experiment. Sometimes, the students will need to use software for modelling purposes. The software can also be paid for. Hence, an experiment requires tools and equipment to perform a study. It is the 4th most significant difference between survey and experiment.


The cost has always been a significant factor in terms of conducting research of different types. Surveys can cost nothing. Students just need to prepare a survey questionnaire and send it to the potential respondents via email, or any other source. On the other hand, experiments cost a lot. If you’re going to perform a unique study, you may have to purchase new equipment. This is because the new scientific equipment will not come at low prices. Sometimes, students have to perform their studies using the software. Because buying the membership of software can also cost a lot. Hence, cost also plays a significant role when it comes to differentiating between survey and experiment.


While a survey studies the possible relation between variables, experiment determines the relationship. All the differences mentioned above are core differences between survey and experiment. Students can’t say that survey is the best, and that an experiment is not. Because both data collection techniques are vital in terms of gathering helpful information related to a topic. Students can also look for other differences using the internet as well.

Response (1)
  1. U
    Unifolks February 16, 2022

    Thanks for sharing thse amazing tips. I will definately use tehm in my daily life.

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