To provide a thorough analysis of the role of the internet in survey research and to discuss the implications of online surveys becoming such a major force in research.
The paper is divided into four major sections: an analysis of the strengths and potential weaknesses of online surveys; a comparison of online surveys with other survey formats; a discussion on the best uses for online surveys and how their potential weaknesses may be moderated; and an overview of the online survey services being offered by the world's largest research firms.
If conducted properly, online surveys have significant advantages over other formats. However, it is imperative that the potential weaknesses of online surveys be mitigated and that online surveys only be used when appropriate. Outsourcing of online survey functions is growing in popularity.
The paper provides a very useful source of information and impartial advice for any professional who is considering the use of online surveys.
The paper synthesizes the vast literature related to online surveys, presents original material related to survey methodology, and offers a number of recommendations.
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