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Limitations of Questionnaires and Web Experiments


Web-based questionnaires and questionnaires are an essential method of epidemiology which provides vital data on the state of health and disease in the public. They are a typical method to collect data that is often less expensive and time-consuming than face to-face interviews, mailed paper questionnaires or automated menus for telephone systems. However questionnaires, surveys and Web experiments are not without limitations that need to be addressed in order to ensure valid and reliable results.

A questionnaire may be affected by response bias. This is the tendency of respondents to answer questions based on their personal opinions rather than the research objectives. The layout of a survey can influence responses in many ways. For example the language of the question could influence whether respondents are able to comprehend the question and interpret it in the same manner (reliable), whether the question is relevant to what you are interested in (valid) and whether they are able to accurately answer (credible).

Survey fatigue or a lack involvement with the questions may also cause respondents to be less inclined to give honest responses. In addition, a lack of incentive or compensation may dissuade respondents from taking the time to complete an application.

Online questionnaires can also be a challenge for certain experimental designs like studies of reaction time or position. It is difficult to measure and control variables across different participants due to the differences in browser settings operating systems, browser settings, and sizes of screens.

In the end, web-based surveys can only be accessed by those who have keyboards and Internet knowledgeable. This excludes a substantial part of the population. Additionally, it is usually difficult for Web researchers to debrief participants after an experiment’s end.

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