Custom Surveys within Your Budget: Maximizing Profits through Effective Online Research Design (1st edition)

Özlem Hesapçı Sanaktekin (Istanbul Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 19 July 2011




Hesapçı Sanaktekin, Ö. (2011), "Custom Surveys within Your Budget: Maximizing Profits through Effective Online Research Design (1st edition)", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 329-330.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

With a tremendous growth in internet use and computer‐mediated communication in the last decade, an increasing amount of communicative activity began to take place through this new medium. Likewise, the internet began to serve as a tool and platform for conducting research, giving a significant rise specifically to online surveys. This has led practitioners and academics to new challenges in survey research methods via the Internet. Advances in technology and convenience for both the researcher and the participant have mainly facilitated this new research trend. The world wide web soon became a convenient survey vehicle due primarily to its time‐cost efficiency in accessing the populations, collecting data, data entry, and analysis. Another important benefit of online survey research is having the ability to access unique populations – populations that share specific interests, beliefs and values, populations that may be hard to reach and hesitant to meet face‐to‐face.

Yet there exist certain limitations experienced in internet‐based research methodologies, mainly related to sampling issues inhibiting researchers' ability to make generalizations about their study findings. Sampling bias, in particular, can result from the non‐representative nature of the Internet population and the self‐selection of participants that may lead to a systematic bias. Another drawback, relative to traditional methods, is often said to be low response rates. Along with the benefits and costs come new experiences and lessons to be learned and shared by researchers conducting or planning to conduct online surveys.

Why are more marketers and scholars not getting the benefits of using survey tools online? Perhaps because they do not know how to use them or how to overcome certain shortcomings or they think it would be too costly. Custom Surveys within Your Budget serves a comprehensive guide providing insight to those who are planning to use alternative tools and platforms for their survey research. The book is edited by a senior and a former vice president at TNS, Brian Cooper and Maria Philips. Academics, researchers, and marketers who use this book will find many different benefits and they will become familiar with the requirements of conducting research on a minimal budget.

Through a number of engaging examples, Custom Surveys within Your Budget not only introduces readers to the world of internet research, but also addresses issues on choosing survey tools, creating questions, and dealing with spam, security and privacy issues. The book also describes some benefits and challenges of conducting research via the internet, offering recommendations to both researchers and institutional users for dealing with them.

The book is organized into 17 chapters, which can be divided into four main sections: an introduction where the various issues in online research are raised before setting up an online survey (Chapters 1‐5); a second section presenting general structural issues in online surveys (Chapters 6‐9), a third section on designing an online questionnaire (Chapters 10‐15) and a final section that raises privacy, security, and ethics issues (Chapters 16‐17). Following an introduction to the background of and developments in the internet research in Chapter 1, Chapters 2 and 3 provide an overview of what to consider before deciding to conduct a research online. Chapter 2 points out a variety of research types that can be conducted online, while Chapter 3 clarifies the steps to ensure that the survey is implemented properly. Various survey tools are evaluated in terms of their functionality in Chapter 4, such as filters, tabs, back button, help link … etc. Common online survey issues such as number and type of questions, time, response rate and sampling are examined within Chapter 5. The chapter conveys information regarding the use of mixed mode methodologies, as well as how to deal with the Spam issue.

Starting with Chapter 6, the following four chapters deal with issues to consider when designing invitations to online survey participation: deciding about sample sources, increasing the response rate, questionnaire layout and formatting, and various programming rules that might be useful in flexibly building the questionnaire. In Chapters 10 to 15, the authors provide detailed explanations on how to formulate and design various question types within an online survey. The use of single‐punch or multi‐punch questions, open‐ended questions, and grid or matrix questions are explained by giving examples and discussing pros and cons of each question type in Chapters 10‐12. Constructing useful scales may sometimes be complex in designing an online survey. Distinction between different scales and their uses in various situations is the focus of Chapter 13. The authors try to outline the importance of choosing the right scale by providing definitions of each scale type, how they are used, and what to consider when choosing the scale.

Marketing professionals and researchers, as well as scholars in communication, consumer studies, and even psychology disciplines usually include certain multimedia tools in their research. Responses towards visual and/or audio content are often what are tested. Chapter 14 pinpoints how online surveys are used for this purpose. Chapter 15 is devoted to online qualitative tools such as message boards, focus groups, one‐on‐one interviews, and video diaries. How these research tools differ from one another is discussed in this section of the book. The book concludes with Chapters 16 and 17, where the authors discuss privacy, security issues, and ethical considerations when the subjects of the research are children. Additionally, in the Appendix section, a list of and information on companies that offer online survey, and qualitative research services are included.

An increasing number of practitioners and researchers in a variety of disciplines are exploring the internet, an especially rich domain for conducting survey research. Custom Surveys within Your Budget is an invaluable source in addressing a multitude of issues researchers should consider before and during the use of online survey methods of data collection: advantages and shortcomings, questionnaire design considerations, suggestions in approaching potential respondents, response rates and aspects of data processing. A strong side of the book is that the methodological issues involved are illustrated with examples.

Overall, this is a well‐organized, easy‐to‐read book, and it packs a lot into a small number of pages. It incorporates the issues to consider in conducting an online survey into an overwhelmingly clear and powerful framework. As an academic who very recently started to use research tools online, I believe researchers, marketers, and academics will learn a great deal of what the book conveys on the topic. It can be used as a reference for specific online research needs as well as an instructional tool to educate researchers interested in doing online research.

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