H809, Activity 11.1 – Analysing paper based/electronic surveys (podcast)

Podcast 11.1 discusses the pros and cons of electronic surveys.

The obvious advantages are that they are fast, cheap and wide ranging. Also, using more sophisticated tools can shift the research to a public sphere and link the response to the respondent i.e. allowing respondents to add to or synthesise their answers, opening out the research process and making the researcher more responsible/accountable. The use of avatars/photos/video e.g. of researchers can influence responses.

Equivalency – is the sample/ population of respondents the same? Different ‘norms’ are applicable for on and offline surveys. Since the answers produced by online/paper based surveys may be different, they need to be analysed differently. How does people’s behaviour change online? Respondents may be more honest or candid, but may be suspicious of digital data and whether they will remain anonymous.

Statistical artifacts – relational patterns may be the same regardless of the media used. Means may be higher or lower e.g. socially desirable behaviour may be lower online (people more honest). Which is more valid?

Context: respondents are often students or specific groups, e.g. educators, who may complete surveys with a specific audience in mind. Where was the survey completed? Alone? Were the respondents influenced by the psychology of the institution?

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