“Measure twice, cut once.” – A carpenter’s rule. Same goes for the research process where assessing the consumers’ attitude and perception is of prime importance.
Technology has changed the traditional door-to-door method of survey to telephonic method and ultimately the web-based method of research. Now the researchers are turning to the faster and more economical ways to conduct primary research. At the same time, there is reluctance in the minds of researchers to trust the accuracy and validity of the response, got from web-based survey. That makes us ponder, whether the fear of falling behind the younger generation or budget cut is pushing the researchers towards online surveys. Before jumping on to any conclusion, it is important to analyse the various aspects related to the shift of conventional method of primary research to the contemporary method which uses internet.
– Economical- paper, printing and data entry cost is eliminated. Variable cost to include more number of participants is almost zero.
– Streamlines the data collection process, data is available in ready to use format. That makes it easy to analyse and perform the secondary research.
– Faster, as response collection time is minimized.
– Greater recall, the respondents get their own time to answer.
– Detailed responses, because of anonymity.
– Wide availability of survey design, as there is provision of including sound and video clips in the questionnaire to make it more appealing to the respondents.
– Flexibility- the questionnaire can be tailored according to the target group.
– Since the use of paper is minimized, it is environment friendly.
– Bad sampling, as sampling of email addresses are difficult.
– Questions can’t be explained in case clarifications are required.
– Follow up questions can’t be asked if required.
– Limited coverage, as large section of population doesn’t have an access to the internet. Further, even though the accessibility is there, not all potential respondents are computer literate.
– Low response rate, as there are chances that the invitation link to fill the survey will go in spam folder of the receiver, a crowding out effect.
What can be done?
Choose the mode of survey (online or offline) based on your research objective and the target group. If the research requires a specific target group, go for offline survey or send the invitation link to only the selected set of respondents.
To increase the response rate, funnel design should be used for preparing the questionnaire. Moreover, it should be kept simple and free of ambiguity.
Emails with personalized survey links and reminders could facilitate the response.
Hence, while web based surveys are in constant flux, the researchers should use their craft with reflexivity. Internet has provided a worthy alternative for the research design and the collection of data. But the project DNA should be kept in mind before designing a questionnaire and choosing the mode for survey. The decision to choose the mode of survey should be scenario-based rather than cost or convenience based. It is very important to check whether it is going to fulfill our research objective or not. Each response should be evaluated carefully to make sure that it adds value and meaning to the research process.