Web-Based Survey

Consider the arguments on the advantages of web-based surveys. Given the competing viewpoints, please discuss if you would recommend web-based surveys for criminal justice research topics and explain your answers.

Advantages of Web-based Surveys

“There is no other method of collecting survey data that offers so much potential for so little cost as Web surveys.” Zanutto (2001) described many of the reasons for the popularity with Web surveys in her presentation for her course in survey design and construction. She explained that Web-based surveys are relatively cheap. An analysis of the cost of paper vs. Web surveys by Schaefer (2001), for the Students Life Experiences Survey conducted at the Illinois Institute of Technology, determined that the average cost of paper surveys was $US2.07 per student compared to the average cost of $US.88 for Web-based surveys. Zanutto described other advantages of Web surveys as a faster response rate; easier to send reminders to participants; easier to process data, since responses could be downloaded to a spreadsheet, data analysis package, or a database; dynamic error checking capability; option of putting questions in random order; the ability to make complex skip pattern questions easier to follow; the inclusion of pop-up instructions for selected questions; and, the use of drop-down boxes. These are possibilities that cannot be included in paper surveys. Couper (2000) saw the multimedia capability of Web surveys as a real advantage, as well as the option to customize survey options for particular groups of respondents. It is interesting to note that despite many of these advantages of Web surveys, Dillman,Tortora, et al. (1998) found that the response rate was greater for plain rather than fancy surveys that employed tables, graphics, and different colors. This led the authors of this study to question the use of fancy designs and layouts in Web questionnaires.

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