Online Survery Essay

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Researching Internet-Based Populations: Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Survey Research, Online Questionnaire Authoring Software Packages, and Web Survey Services
1. Kevin B. Wright*
Article first published online: 23 JUN 2006
DOI: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2005.tb00259.x

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Volume 10, Issue 3, page 00,April 2005

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Wright, K. B. (2005), Researching Internet-Based Populations: Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Survey Research, Online Questionnaire Authoring Software Packages, and Web Survey Services. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 10: 00. doi: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2005.tb00259.x
Author Information
1. (Ph.D. University of Oklahoma 1999) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Oklahoma. The majority of his research has focused on computer-mediated support groups and health outcomes for people with health concerns, interpersonal communication issues within the context of computer-mediated interaction, and online survey methodology. More information is available at:
*Address: Department of Communication, 610 Elm Avenue, Room 101, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019 USA
Publication History
1. Issue published online: 23 JUN 2006
2. Article first published online: 23 JUN 2006
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This article examines some advantages and disadvantages of conducting online survey research. It explores current features, issues, pricing, and limitations associated with products and services, such as online questionnaire features and services to facilitate the online survey process, such as those offered by web survey businesses. The review shows that current online survey products and services can vary considerably in terms of available features, consumer costs, and limitations. It is concluded that online survey researchers should conduct a careful assessment of their research goals, research timeline, and financial situation before choosing a specific product or service.

The past decade has seen a tremendous increase in internet use and computer-mediated communication (Fox, Rainie, Larsen, Horrigan, Lenhart, Spooner, & Carter, 2001; Horrigan, 2001; Nie & Erbring, 2000; Nie, Hillygus, & Erbring, 2002). As an increasing amount of communicative activity takes place through this new medium, there has likewise been a significant increase in primary research on virtual communities, online relationships, and a variety of other aspects of computer-mediated communication (Flaherty, Pearce, & Rubin, 1998;Matheson, 1991; Nonnecke, Preece, Andrews, & Voutour, 2004; Preece, 1999; Preece & Ghozati, 2001; Walther, 1996; Walther & Boyd, 2002; Wood & Smith, 2001; Wright, 2000a, 2002a, 2002b, 2004). Studies of online populations have led to an increase in the use of online surveys, presenting scholars with new challenges in terms of applying traditional survey research methods to the study of online behavior and Internet use (Andrews, Nonnecke, & Preece, 2003; Bachmann & Elfrink, 1996; Stanton, 1998; Witmer, Colman, & Katzman, 1999; Yun & Trumbo, 2000).
The technology for online survey research is young and evolving. Until recently, creating and conducting an online survey was a time-consuming task requiring familiarity with web authoring programs, HTML code, and scripting programs. Today, survey authoring software packages and online survey services make online survey research much easier and