Conducting Research Surveys via E-mail and the Web

Conducting Research Surveys via E-mail and the Web

Matthias Schonlau
Ronald D. Fricker
Marc N. Elliott
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 142
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1480rc
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  • Book Info
    Conducting Research Surveys via E-mail and the Web
    Book Description:

    Internet-based surveys, although still in their infancy, are becomingincreasingly popular because they are believed to be faster, better,cheaper, and easier to conduct than surveys using more-traditional telephoneor mail methods. Based on evidence in the literature and real-life casestudies, this book examines the validity of those claims. The authorsdiscuss the advantages and disadvantages of using e-mail and the Web toconduct research surveys, and also offer practical suggestions for designing and implementing Internet surveys most effectively.Among other findings, the authors determined that Internet surveys may bepreferable to mail or telephone surveys when a list of e-mail addresses forthe target population is available, thus eliminating the need for mail orphone invitations to potential respondents. Internet surveys also arewell-suited for larger survey efforts and for some target populations thatare difficult to reach by traditional survey methods. Web surveys areconducted more quickly than mail or phone surveys when respondents arecontacted initially by e-mail, as is often the case when a representativepanel of respondents has been assembled in advance. And, although surveysincur virtually no coding or data-entry costs because the data are capturedelectronically, the labor costs for design and programming can be high.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3226-3
    Subjects: General Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. FIGURES
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. TABLES
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. SUMMARY
    (pp. xiii-xx)
  7. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. ACRONYMS
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  9. Chapter One INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-4)

    Before we begin our discussion of the merits, and limitations, of Web and e-mail surveys, it is instructive to note a few things about the survey process in general.

    When part of a research program, surveys usually are designed to permit formal statistical inference about some larger population given certain information collected from a subset of that population. Choices in survey design—including those of contact mode, response mode, and sampling methodology—must be made and those choices must be evaluated in light of the cost implications and the subsequent effects those choices may have on data quality and the...

  10. Chapter Two BACKGROUND ON THE SURVEY PROCESS
    (pp. 5-18)

    In this chapter, we present an overview of the various aspects of the research survey process.¹ We emphasize that surveying should first be thought of as a process. We then discuss how the interaction with survey respondents can be divided into three distinct segments—contact mode, response mode, and follow-up mode. Next, we explain the crucial distinction between probability samples and convenience samples, and finally, we discuss important considerations in planning a survey: response rates, cost, timeliness, sources of error, and data quality. (The literature review in Chapter Three is structured along these same lines.)

    In discussions on surveying, the...

  11. Chapter Three LITERATURE REVIEW OF WEB AND E-MAIL SURVEYS
    (pp. 19-32)

    In this chapter, we examine what has been written about Internet surveys in the literature, specifically Web and e-mail surveys. We address the topics of response rate, cost, timeliness, sources of error, and data quality.¹ We compare two conventional survey modes, mail and telephone, with Internet survey modes. The other widely used conventional mode, face-to-face interviewing, is not addressed here because little has been written about it in comparison with Web and e-mail surveys given the high cost of in-person interviewing.²

    Beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s, prior to the widespread use of the Web, e-mail was explored...

  12. Chapter Four CHOOSING AMONG THE VARIOUS TYPES OF INTERNET SURVEYS
    (pp. 33-40)

    Here, we examine the various types of Internet surveys and the differences among them that factor into deciding what sort of survey is most appropriate for a particular study. At the heart of this decision lies the question of whether a researcher wants to make inferences about some larger population. This chapter deals with the consequences that arise from the answer to that question. (For instance, probability samples generally allow for inferences beyond the sample at hand, whereas convenience samples generally do not.)

    Table 4.1 presents the various sampling selection methods related to Internet surveys for the two sampling categories....

  13. Chapter Five GUIDELINES FOR DESIGNING AND IMPLEMENTING INTERNET SURVEYS
    (pp. 41-54)

    Current research on the design and implementation of Internet surveys has yet to produce an authoritative set of rules on constructing and fielding these surveys most effectively.¹ Nevertheless, through trial and error, the state of the art is gradually evolving. We anticipate that over the next few years the practice of designing and implementing Internet-based surveys will be refined significantly.

    In this chapter, we provide some guidelines that we have found useful in the design and implementation of Internet surveys. We offer these suggestions as a starting point for making conscious decisions about the specific implementation details of an Internet...

  14. Chapter Six INTERNET SURVEY CASE STUDIES
    (pp. 55-72)

    In this chapter, we present examples of Internet surveys that were fielded by various organizations. Some of these case studies have appeared in the literature and some have not. We present them here to illustrate the range of Internet survey possibilities.

    These case studies include probability samples of general populations, probability samples of closed populations,¹ and convenience samples. We included surveys that were constructed using a commercial survey software product,² surveys that were programmed from scratch, and surveys that were conducted by a commercial Web survey company.

    Although each study represents only one specific implementation of a survey, as a...

  15. Chapter Seven CONCLUSIONS
    (pp. 73-80)

    In this chapter, we offer some concluding thoughts on the future of Internet-based surveys, the issues surrounding the use of e-mail and the Web for research surveys, and certain assumptions concerning performance—that is, are Internet surveys faster, better, cheaper, or easier to conduct than surveys that use more-traditional methods? We also explore a few questions that remain unanswered about Internet surveys.

    Internet surveys are here to stay and will become even more commonplace, with Web surveys continuing to dominate over e-mail surveys. Although some experts predict that Web surveys will eventually replace other survey modes altogether, we anticipate that...

  16. Appendix A LITERATURE REVIEW OF RESPONSE RATES
    (pp. 81-94)
  17. Appendix B SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE IN THE LITERATURE
    (pp. 95-106)
  18. Appendix C HOW EFFECTIVE IS USING A CONVENIENCE SAMPLE TO SUPPLEMENT A PROBABILITY SAMPLE?
    (pp. 107-112)
  19. REFERENCES
    (pp. 113-118)