Limitations of Questionnaires and Web Experiments

Web-based questionnaires and experiments are vital epidemiologic techniques that provide crucial information about public health and disease. They are a common method of collecting data that are typically more affordable and efficient than face-toface interviews, mailed questionnaires, or automated telephone menu systems. However questionnaires, surveys and Web experiments are not without limitations that must be addressed to ensure reliable and valid results.

A questionnaire may be affected by response bias. This is the tendency of respondents to answer questions based on their personal opinions rather than the research objectives. The structure of a questionnaire can influence responses in various ways. For example, the wording of the question may affect how respondents respond to the question and interpret it in the same way (reliable) or whether the question is a good indicator of what you are interested in (valid) and the ability of respondents to accurately answer (credible).

A lack of enthusiasm or engagement with the questions can cause respondents to be less likely to give honest answers. A lack of incentives or compensation could also deter respondents from filling out a questionnaire.

Online questionnaires also pose a challenge for some experimental designs, like reaction-time or positioning studies. It is difficult to measure and control variables across different participants due to the variations in browser settings operating systems, settings, and the size of screens.

Furthermore, Web-based surveys are only available to those who are keyboard and Internet proficient, which excludes a significant portion of the population. It’s also difficult to Web researchers to report on participants after the window for their experiment has closed.

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