The research process is incomplete without collection of data, which starts after identification of research problem and chalking out research design. The researcher should keep in mind that there are two types of data, i.e. primary and secondary data. There are several methods involved in the collection of primary data, like observation, interview, questionnaires, schedules, etc. People quite commonly use questionnaire and schedule interchangeably, due to much resemblance in their nature; however, there are many differences between these two. While a questionnaire is filled by the informants, enumerators fill schedule on behalf of the respondent.
Content: Questionnaire Vs Schedule
|Basis for Comparison||Questionnaire||Schedule|
|Meaning||Questionnaire refers to a technique of data collection which consist of a series of written questions along with alternative answers.||Schedule is a formalized set of questions, statements and spaces for answers, provided to the enumerators who ask questions to the respondents and note down the answers.|
|Respondent's identity||Not known||Known|
|Success relies on||Quality of the questionnaire||Honesty and competence of the enumerator.|
|Usage||Only when the people are literate and cooperative.||Used on both literate and illiterate people.|
Definition of Questionnaire
We define questionnaire as an instrument for research, which consists of a list of questions, along with the choice of answers, printed or typed in a sequence on a form used for acquiring specific information from the respondents. In general, questionnaires are delivered to the persons concerned either by post or mail, requesting them to answer the questions and return it. Informants are expected to read and understand the questions and reply in the space provided in the questionnaire itself.
The questionnaire is prepared in such a way that it translate the required information into a series of questions, that informants can and will answer. Further, it should be such that the respondent gets motivated and encouraged, to make him engaged in the interview and complete it. The merits of questionnaires are discussed below:
- It is an inexpensive method, regardless of the size of the universe.
- Free from the bias of the interviewer, as the respondents answer the questions in his own words.
- Respondents have enough time to think and answer.
- Due its large coverage, respondents living in distant areas can also be reached conveniently.
Definition of Schedule
The schedule is a proforma which contains a list of questions filled by the research workers or enumerators, specially appointed for the purpose of data collection. Enumerators go to the informants with the schedule, and ask them the questions from the set, in the sequence and record the replies in the space provided. There are certain situations, where the schedule is distributed to the respondents, and the enumerators assist them in answering the questions.
Enumerators play a major role in the collection of data, through schedules. They explain the aims and objects of the research to the respondents and interpret the questions to them when required. This method is little expensive as the selection, appointment and training of the enumerators require a huge amount. It is used in case of extensive enquiries conducted by the government agencies, big organisations. Most common example of data collection through schedule is population census.
Key Differences Between Questionnaire and Schedule
The important points of difference between questionnaire and schedule are as under:
- Questionnaire refers to a technique of data collection which consist of a series of written questions along with alternative answers. The schedule is a formalised set of questions, statements, and spaces for answers, provided to the enumerators who ask questions to the respondents and note down the answers.
- Questionnaires are delivered to the informants by post or mail and answered as specified in the cover letter. On the other hand, schedules are filled by the research workers, who interpret the questions to the respondents if necessary.
- The response rate is low in case of questionnaires as many people do not respond and often return it without answering all the questions. On the contrary, the response rate is high, as they are filled by the enumerators, who can get answers to all the question.
- The questionnaires can be distributed a large number of people at the same time, and even the respondents who are not approachable can also be reached easily. Conversely, in schedule method, the reach is relatively small, as the enumerators cannot be sent to a large area.
- Data collection by questionnaire method is comparatively cheaper and economical as the money is invested only in the preparation and posting of the questionnaire. As against this, a large amount is spent on the appointment and training of the enumerators and also on the preparation of schedules.
- In questionnaire method, it is not known that who answers the question whereas, in the case of schedule, the respondent’s identity is known.
- The success of the questionnaire lies on the quality of the questionnaire while the honesty and competency of the enumerator determine the success of a schedule.
- The questionnaire is usually employed only when the respondents literate and cooperative. Unlike schedule which can be used for data collection from all classes of people.
As everything has two aspects, so as with the case of questionnaire and schedule. The risk of collection of inaccurate and incomplete information is high in the questionnaire, as it might happen that people may not be able to understand the question correctly. On the contrary, schedule faces the risk of biases and cheating of the interviewer.