Limitations of Questionnaires and Web Experiments

Web-based surveys and questionnaires are an essential method of epidemiology which provides vital information about the state of public health and disease. These are the most common methods of gathering data, and are usually less expensive and time-consuming than face-to-face interviews, mailed questionnaires, or automated phone menu systems. Questionnaires and Web tests are not free of limitations, which should be addressed to obtain valid and reliable results.

A questionnaire can be affected by response bias. This is the tendency of respondents to answer questions based on their opinions instead of research goals. In addition, the design of the questionnaire can influence responses in various ways. For instance the wording of questions can influence whether respondents understand and interpret the questions in the same way (reliable) to determine the subject matter you’re interested in (valid) or are able to answer in a timely manner (credible).

Respondents may also experience survey fatigue or lack of interest in the questions asked and reduces the chance of them providing honest responses. In addition, a lack of incentive or compensation may discourage respondents from taking the time to complete survey forms.

Online questionnaires can also pose difficult for certain research designs like studies of response time or positioning. The variation in settings for browsers screens, sizes, and operating systems makes it difficult to control and measure the same variables across all participants.

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

June 6, 2024