1st Edition

Social and Behavioral Research and the Internet Advances in Applied Methods and Research Strategies

Edited By Marcel Das, Peter Ester, Lars Kaczmirek Copyright 2011
    449 Pages
    by Routledge

    449 Pages
    by Routledge

    Highlighting the progress made by researchers in using Web-based surveys for data collection, this timely volume summarizes the experiences of leading behavioral and social scientists from Europe and the US who collected data using the Internet.  Some chapters present theory, methodology, design, and implementation, while others focus on best practice examples and/or issues such as data quality and understanding paradata. A number of contributors applied innovative Web-based research methods to the LISS panel of CentERdata collected from over 5,000 Dutch households. Their findings are presented in the book. Some of the data is available on the book website. The book addresses practical issues such as data quality, how to reach difficult target groups, how to design a survey to maximize response, and ethical issues that need to be considered. Innovative applications such as the use of biomarkers and eye-tracking techniques are also explored.

    Part 1 provides an overview of Internet survey research including its methodologies, strengths, challenges, and best practices. Innovative ways to minimize sources of error are provided along with a review of mixed-mode designs, how to design a scientifically sound longitudinal panel and avoid sampling problems, and address ethical requirements in Web surveys. Part 2 focuses on advanced applications including the impact of visual design on the interpretability of survey questions, the impact survey usability has on respondents’ answers, design features that increase interaction, and how Internet surveys can be effectively used to study sensitive issues. Part 3 addresses data quality, sample selection, measurement and non-response error, and new applications for collecting online data. The issue of underrepresentation of certain groups in Internet research and the measures most effective at reducing it are also addressed.  The book concludes with a discussion of the importance of paradata and the Web data collection process in general, followed by chapters with innovative experiments using eye-tracking techniques and biomarker data.

    This practical book appeals to practitioners from market survey research institutes and researchers in disciplines such as psychology, education, sociology, political science, health studies, marketing, economics, and business who use the Internet for data collection, but is also an ideal supplement for graduate and/or upper level undergraduate courses on (Internet) research methods and/or data collection taught in these fields.

    M. Das, P. Ester, L. Kaczmirek, Introduction.  Part 1. Methodology in Internet Survey Research. J.D. Smyth, J.E. Pearson, Internet Survey Methods: A Review of Strengths, Weaknesses, and Innovations. E.D. de Leeuw, J.J. Hox, Internet Surveys as Part of a Mixed Mode Design. A.C. Scherpenzeel, M. Das, True Longitudinal and Probability-Based Internet Panels: Evidence from the Netherlands. A.C. Scherpenzeel, J.G. Bethlehem, How Representative are Online Panels? Problems of Coverage and Selection and Possible Solutions. E. Singer, M.P. Couper, Ethical Considerations in Internet Surveys.  Part 2. Advanced Methods and Applications. V. Toepoel, D.A. Dillman, How Visual Design Affects the Interpretability of Survey Questions. L. Kaczmirek, Attention and Usability in Internet Surveys: Effects of Visual Feedback in Grid Questions. M. Oudejans, L.M. Christian, Using Interactive Features to Motivate and Probe Responses to Open-Ended Questions. P. Ester, H. Vinken, Measuring Attitudes towards Controversial Issues in Internet Surveys: Order Effects of Open and Closed Questioning.  Part 3. Data Quality: Problems and Solutions. C.M. Vis, M. Marchand, Challenges in Reaching Hard-to-Reach Groups in Internet Panel Research. A. van Soest, A. Kapteyn, Mode and Context Effects in Measuring Household Assets. D. Heerwegh, Internet Survey Paradata. M. Galesic, T. Yan, Use of Eye Tracking for Studying Survey Response Processes. M. Avendano, A.C. Scherpenzeel, J.P. Mackenbach, Can Biomarkers be Collected in an Internet Survey? A Pilot Study in the LISS Panel. M. Das, P. Ester, L. Kaczmirek, Discussion and Conclusions.


    Marcel Das is Professor of Econometrics and data collection at the Department of Econometrics and Operations Research at the Tilburg School of Economics and Management at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. In 2000, he became the director of CentERdata, a survey research institute specialized in Web-based surveys, housed at Tilburg University. Das has managed a large number of national and international research projects. His research interests include design issues in Web-based interviewing and micro-econometric modeling of household behavior. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Tilburg University in 1998.

    Peter Ester is Professor of Labour Markets Issues at Rotterdam University and a former Professor of Sociology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. He is former chairman of the Board of Overseers of CentERdata, Board member of Statistics in the Netherlands, and of IAB – the federal German Institute of Employment Research, and Crown Member of the Dutch Social and Economic Council (SER). He has published extensively on cross-national and intergenerational trends in attitudes and values. Ester was involved in numerous national and international social survey projects in the last 25 years. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Erasmus University Rotterdam in 1984.

    Lars Kaczmirek is a survey researcher at GESIS- Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Mannheim, Germany. His research focuses on methodology in online surveys, reducing survey error, website evaluation, and usability issues. He has managed and reviewed a large number of national and international online survey projects. Kaczmirek is a member of the Board of the German Society for Online Research (DGOF) and a member of the Editorial Board of the Neue Schriften zur Online Forschung (New Publications in Online Research) book series. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Mannheim in 2008.

    "This book differs from the most popular texts on survey design because its content encompasses both basic design issues and methodological and data quality issues. All of the chapters are well-written and would stand alone as articles, but complement each other well in this book format. ... Overall, I would recommend this book to both newcomers to the social sciences as an introductory text that covers all of the bases needed to design and implement a web survey and to more seasoned researchers as a handbook of best practices. This book should be part of every social scientist’s collection." - Kathleen Ashenfelter, U.S. Census Bureau, in the Journal of Official Statistics

    "An absolutely delightful journey through the history and present of Internet surveys, this fascinating book explains how probability sampling can be implemented to produce a representative panel of respondents and describes the range of fascinating data that can then be collected from these participants.  Eye tracking, biomarkers, visual layout, paradata, and measurement on sensitive topics are just a few of the themes examined by some of the world's leading survey methodologists.  This book is a must-have for anyone interested in one of the most important innovations in the research world." - Jon Krosnick, Stanford University, USA

    "The frequency with which web surveys are used is in sharp contrast with the quality of the studies. Without a proper sampling design one cannot say anything about the population. Social and Behavioral Research and the Internet illustrates and discusses in a very clear way how web surveys can be used in a scientific way. We hope that the described approach will be taken over by many other research institutions. This would … considerably improve social and behavioral science research." - Willem Saris, President of the European Survey Research Association