Online Surveys

Written by Tara Peris
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It seems hard to avoid online surveys these days. Between queries from political polling organizations and pop up ads that promise big prizes in exchange for quick info, most of us have encountered Web questionnaires one way or another. Although at times a hassle to complete, these surveys hold the power to revolutionize how we gather and analyze data.

It used to be the case that if a researcher wanted to conduct a survey, she had to get out on the streets and canvas the area most likely to produce her target participants. This was a time consuming approach, and one that often undermined survey results. This is because study findings are always limited when they rely on small sample sizes collected by convenience.

The Value of Online Surveys

Online surveys have removed much of the hassle of data collection and have enabled scientists to interview a much broader cross-section of society than ever before. With quick, easy questionnaires that require little time and effort to complete, researchers can do a much more effective job of attracting potential participants. Better still, they can ensure the integrity of their findings by enlisting a diverse sample of respondents.

Although these aspects reflect clear advantages to online surveys, it is worth noting that there are also some limitations. It is important for lay people reading the results of online surveys to think critically and review findings with a grain of salt. Don't trust anything you read unless it is accompanied by a clear description of sound study methodology.

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