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The use of open-ended questions that require multiple items in the answering points were observed to lead to a sharp increase in the attrition rate (Crawford et al.,2001). The use of questions that are organized into tables in conducting the various forms of web surveys was also observed to increase the rate of attrition (Knapp & Heidingsfelder, 1999).The advantages of using the web-based surveys to the designer is the he or she has a wide range of various textual options, graphic applications and control of the format; features that are never present in the email surveys.
Skinner and Allen (1983) compared the various effects of surveys that are administered through the surveys. They did this while comparing it with the face-to-face administration and the various traditional forms of surveys such as self-administered pencil and pencil surveys. Their main focus was however centered on the particular results that were observable as regards the respondent's expression of the various accurate expression of extremely sensitive information that could be demanded by the various electronic surveys.
There are various sources of concern regarding the use various forms of survey literature (Bowers, 1999; Eaton, 1997;Kiessler & Sproull, 1986).The main sources of concern however, as outlined by various professionals is mainly attributed to the access to the main samples and the ability of the researchers to utilize the required technology while ensuring that the data is subject to an acceptable level of authenticity and privacy levels.
The use of internet for the purpose of taking surveys is one of the major forms of electronic surveying techniques. It is however appoint of concern to note that not the whole of the general population has access to this form of sampling method ( Sheehan & Hoy, 1999). It is worthwhile to note that the use of the internet is increasingly becoming dominant among the general population. The access to the internet is however restricted to urban areas while the rural areas are not covered to a good extent. There is however a very rapid increase in the internet connectivity in most rural locations. This is mainly among person who have some college experience and also above the age of 50. The continuing increase in the access to internet facilities is therefore a major factor in the growth of computer usage for the purpose of conducting various forms of data sampling. It is therefore crucial for researchers note that the technological capacity is an important parameter for the process of electronic sampling to be carried out conclusively. This must be expedited in terms of both adequate respondent knowledge and good equipment. It is therefore necessary to ensure that both factors are put into consideration while designing the various forms of electronic surveys. The importance of designing an attractive welcome screen for the web-based surveys therefore comes into mind. The survey screens must be easy to use and well designed to ensure that there is high response rate.
The use of web-based interfaces to conduct surveys is an important and innovating technique of conducting research. This is mainly because of its innovativeness as compared to the other electronic methods that rely on plain texts such as e-mail in conducting the surveys. It is however important to pint that several people are not used to the process of responding to the various forms of electronic surveys (processes such as the selection of drop-down menus, scrolling from one screen to the next etc. is not easy to several respondents).It is therefore crucial to pay extra attention to the design of the welcome screen and the other screen of the electronic survey platform. Apart from the design, it is crucial to ensure that all the respondents are prenotified of the impending survey via emails. This is important for the process of gauging the technological prowess of the sample and their willingness to take part in the survey. The prenotification is also intended to clear the mind of the respondents of the possibility of the survey being part of the internet "spamming" activities (Sheehan & Hoy, 1999). In the process of communicating the survey details to the respondents (sample),it is important to ensure that the process has a personal appeal. A concise overview of the activities to be undertaken in the sampling process must be communicated and the message must elicit a motivation of response. Apart from the above factors the respondents must be assured of absolute privacy and confidentiality. A certain study conducted by Cook, Heath and Thompson ( 2000) found out that the use of personalized prenotifications and the actual number of respondents aided in influencing the response rate in the various electronic sampling methods used. Whenever a particular sample was isolated and then prenotified, it is necessary for their privacy and confidentiality to be guaranteed. Absolute steps must be adopted in order to ensure that the errors in the sampling method are reduced.
In order to ensure that accurate results are obtained from the web-base surveys, the access to the platform must be restricted to the target sample. This is because the use of unrestricted samples usually results in the compromise of the whole process. The use of large unrestricted samples in conducting online surveys usually results in data whose quality and validity is questionable. It is therefore crucial to clearly define and authenticate the sample. The use of various security features such as PIN numbers and passwords must be used in order to instill an element of control on the sampling method. The result obtained is therefore of less error and is credible (Dillman, Tortora, & Bowker, 1998).The lack of such features would mean that the respondents must be meticulously examined before being added into the general sample pool.
In order to ensure that the respondent privacy is protected and that their responses are confidential. It is important that extra features are used. As outlined by the works of various researchers, negative feedback was noted to be consistent with the lack of privacy on the surveying platform (Mehta & Sivadas, 1995 and Sheehan & Hoy, 1999). A study of the server logs used in various electronic surveys indicated that respondents stopped taking part in web-based surveys whenever there was a request for their email addresses (Jeavons, 1998)it is therefore crucial for researchers to ensure that the sample is assured of their confidentiality prior to the time of the survey (Kiesler & Sproull, 1986 and Schaeffer & Dillman, 1998). It is important to further protect the sample's privacy through the separation of the e-mail addresses on receipt of the finished survey. This can also be achieved through a well programmed platform that include the email address of the researcher and excludes the respondents' email addresses (Shannon & Bradshaw, 2000).
The web survey platform must also be hosted on a secure server and must be encrypted with the best encryption technique to ensure that the privacy of the respondent is assured. This in no doubt leads to better response from the respondents. The use of web-based surveys must therefore be conducted with the best principles of survey design in consideration. The elements of adaptability of the electronic survey must be considered in order to derive maximum benefits from this form of research. This must be accomplished while ensuring that the integrity of the data obtained is at its best. The data integrity is a function of respondent quality response. Therefore their confidentiality and privacy must be assured.
Cho & LaRose (1999)
recommended that some actions must be considered in the process of building a trusting relationship between the survey samples and the researchers. These are mainly focussed on the elements of privacy. They included the separation of invitation to participate in the survey through the questionnaires. They also suggested the offering of incentives to act as an exchange for participating in the surveys. They also floated the idea of collecting the survey data via web pages. Other factors that they suggested included the encryption of extremely sensitive information and the elimination of cookies from sites that are used to conduct the surveys. The domains to be used for the survey must also be credible. They also pointed out the importance of posting the results of the survey as a summary.
Andrews, D, Nonnecke, and Preece J (2003).Electronic Survey Methodology: A Case Study in Reaching Hard-to-Involve Internet Users.International Journal of Human-Computer marketing research
Bowers, D.K. (1999). FACS on online research. Marketing Research, 10 (1): 45-48.
Cho, H. & LaRose, R. (Winter, 1999). "Privacy issues in Internet surveys." Social Science
Computer Review, 17(4),421-434.
Cook, C., Heath, F., & Thomson, R. (2000). A meta-analysis of response rates in web- or Internet-based surveys. Educational & Psychological Measurement, 60 (6): 821- 826.
Dillman, D.A., Tortora, R.D., & Bowker, D. (1998). Principles for constructing web surveys:
An initial statement. (Technical Report No. 98-50). Pullman, WA: Washington State University Social and Economic Sciences Research Center
Jeavons, a. (1998). Ethology and the Web: Observing respondent behavior…[continue]
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