Online Survey Polls

Written by Tara Peris
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There are a number of things to consider when reading the results of online survey polls. Although the findings may be flashy or eye-catching, you must consider the methodology that produced them carefully. Read with a critical eye, and you are less likely to be duped by false claims and sloppy research.

Recently, the American public has been introduced to a new era of polling. Online survey polls exist in every corner of cyberspace, from major newspaper organizations to pop-up ads and marketing campaigns. Although these polls often provide a punchy tag line to draws in respondents, their legitimacy may prove questionable.

Reading Online Survey Polls with a Critical Eye

Let's start with a simple motto: Do not believe everything you read. Just because something is packaged as "research" does not mean that it is reliable and scientifically sound. With online polls, you must keep in mind that participants are not selected at random. The people who choose to complete online polls are people who care enough about the subject at hand to take the time to respond. Thus, their answers are more likely to reflect a certain limited set of views, rather than those of the general public.

An equally challenging issue relates to safeguarding the integrity of online polls. Many online survey polls let people vote multiple times, rendering their findings virtually meaningless. You must learn to evaluate these features critically, and use them to constrain your interpretation of polling results. Always read the fine print, and you are less likely to be lead astray.


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