Surveys are instruments that researchers use to measure attitudes, tastes, viewpoints, and/or facts from a specific population. Most populations (or groups) are too large and widespread geographically to allow researchers to obtain information on each group member. To compensate, researchers have devised several methods by which they make inferences about a population by using information gathered from a selected sample of the population.
The information above is taken from
"Surveys, Sample." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Ed. William A. Darity, Jr. 2nd ed. Vol. 8. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008. 244-245. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 21 May 2012.