Cover: Conducting Research Surveys via E-mail and the Web

Conducting Research Surveys via E-mail and the Web

Published Apr 29, 2002

by Matthias Schonlau, Ronald D. Fricker, Marc N. Elliott

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Internet-based surveys, although still in their infancy, are becoming increasingly popular because they are believed to be faster, better, cheaper, and easier to conduct than surveys using more-traditional telephone or mail methods. Based on evidence in the literature and real-life case studies, this book examines the validity of those claims. The authors discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using e-mail and the Web to conduct 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 be preferable to mail or telephone surveys when a list of e-mail addresses for the target population is available, thus eliminating the need for mail or phone invitations to potential respondents. Internet surveys also are well-suited for larger survey efforts and for some target populations that are difficult to reach by traditional survey methods. Web surveys are conducted more quickly than mail or phone surveys when respondents are contacted initially by e-mail, as is often the case when a representative panel of respondents has been assembled in advance. And, although surveys incur virtually no coding or data-entry costs because the data are captured electronically, the labor costs for design and programming can be high.

"Despite all the problems telephone-reliant pollsters have faced in recent years, such as declining response rates and increasing use of cell phones, the idea of taking surveys to the Internet to gauge opinion remains a controversial idea… Regardless of one's personal opinions on the matter, 'Conducting Research Surveys Via E-Mail And The Web' is full of useful information for anyone interested in the future of polling."

- NationalJournal.com

This research in the public interest was supported by RAND, using discretionary funds made possible by the generosity of RAND's donors, the fees earned on client-funded research, and independent research and development (IR&D) funds provided by the Department of Defense.

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