Online Survey Software

Written by Tara Peris
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Online survey software has helped investigators to address one of the most challenging aspects of field research: ensuring statistical power. Simply put, every study needs enough participants in order to ensure that statistical analyses are meaningful. Although the number of people will vary according to study design, new Web-based protocols have removed much of the difficulty of ensuring adequate power.

Statistical power is one of those pesky subjects that trips up students and veteran researchers alike. At the most basic level, "power" refers to the ability to detect a finding if it really exists. Say, for example, that you have a new cancer treatment that you believe results in higher rates of remission. Power is an element of study design that ensures that, if in fact your treatment works, its effect will be captured through your tests.

Online Survey Software and Statistical Power

How do you determine power? There are many ways, some more complicated than others. The easy way out is to use power calculators, many of which are available on the Web, or as part of online survey software packages. Either way, these calculators will ask for information about your proposed project and use it to determine how many participants you need.

Of course, the good news is that when you use Web-based research designs, you remove most basic problems related to power. Online survey software makes it easy to design a compelling questionnaire, and by extension, to draw in respondents. Although there are other design issues that make online research problematic, subject recruitment is not one of them.

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