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Survey costing is a complex process that balances a survey organization's financial objectives against the expenses associated with achieving or maintaining the scientific standards that govern validity and reliability, or quality, of the final product. Achieving optimum balance between budgetary and scientific goals requires that researchers first understand how survey operational components are related to costs and how changing each influences both data quality and budgetary outcomes.

It is important to separate survey costs (direct and indirect, variable and fixed) from survey price, as price includes costs plus profit, for those organizations that are for-profit. Profit does not necessarily have any relationship to cost other than being added to it to create total price. As a result, profit and price are not discussed in this entry.

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