Limitations of Questionnaires and Web Experiments

Web-based experiments and questionnaires are essential to the study of epidemiology, providing important information on the condition of public health and disease. They are a common means to collect data that is typically less expensive and time intensive than face-to-face interviews, mailed questionnaires or automated menus for phones systems. Questionnaires and Web experiments do not come without their limitations, which must be addressed to get reliable and valid results.

A questionnaire may be affected by response bias, the tendency of respondents to answer questions according to their personal opinions rather than according to research objectives. Moreover, questionnaire design can affect responses in several ways: for example the language used in the questions can affect whether respondents comprehend and interpret the questions in the same way (reliable) or whether you can determine the subject matter you’re interested in (valid) or are able to answer accurately (credible).

Respondents may also experience survey fatigue or lack of engagement with the questions that are asked and reduces the chance of them giving honest answers. In addition, the absence of incentive or compensation may discourage respondents from taking the time to complete an application.

Online questionnaires pose challenges for some experimental designs, for example, positioning or reaction time studies. It is challenging to measure and control variables across different participants due to the variations 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 proficient. This excludes a substantial segment of the population. It is also difficult for Web researchers debriefing participants after the experiment window has closed.

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