How to Write a Survey Proposal

by Vicki A. Benge; Updated September 26, 2017
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Researchers survey different populations for various reasons. Marketers test products through consumer surveys. Political candidates survey voters' concerns through questionnaires. One population group that is readily available and used for diverse types of surveys consists of college students. These surveys generally require that a written proposal be submitted to an approval committee. The written form requires the author to follow a few basic guidelines.

Introducing the Proposal

In the introduction, provide an overview of the survey. Identify the survey topic, the data sought and the target. The introduction should also explain the purpose of the survey, how the results will be used, how the volunteers or paid respondents will be contacted and how many persons will be questioned.

The Proposal

The dates on which the survey will begin and end should be included in the body of the proposal. Whether the participants' identities will be revealed along with the results should also be noted. A copy of the survey -- that is, the actual questions the surveyors will be asking -- should be a part of the proposal. This will give the review committee or the pertinent authority that will be approving or denying the survey an opportunity to analyze the intent fully. If the results are subject to sampling errors, explain how that data will be handled.

Be Specific

Suppose a professor of neurology heading a research group wants to survey the sleeping habits of college students and needs 100 volunteers to answer five short questions. The research team could contact students on campus to seek willing participants. The survey proposal would include details about what the neurology team is trying to learn, including background data on why the survey is important, such as citing prior research in the field.

Provide Contact Information

Not only should the names of surveyors be included in a survey proposal, but a contact person for the proposal also should be clearly identified. In addition, details about how participants will be contacted -- by email, telephone or in person -- should be included.

About the Author

Vicki A Benge began writing professionally in 1984 as a newspaper reporter. A small-business owner since 1999, Benge has worked as a licensed insurance agent and has more than 20 years experience in income tax preparation for businesses and individuals. Her business and finance articles can be found on the websites of "The Arizona Republic," "Houston Chronicle," The Motley Fool, "San Francisco Chronicle," and Zacks, among others.

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