Limitations of Questionnaires and Web Experiments

Web-based experiments and questionnaires are essential to the study of epidemiology which provides vital data on the state of public health and illness. These are common methods for collecting data. They are typically less expensive and time-consuming than face-toface interviews, mail-in questionnaires, or automated phone menu systems. However, questionnaires and Web experiments are not without limitations that should be addressed to ensure valid and reliable results.

A questionnaire may be influenced by response bias, the tendency of respondents to answer questions according to their own opinions instead of the research goals. Furthermore, the design of a questionnaire can influence responses in various ways. For example the wording of questions can influence the way respondents interpret and understand the question in the same manner (reliable) and also, determine the subject matter you’re interested in (valid), or can answer with accuracy (credible).

A lack of enthusiasm or involvement with the questions may also cause respondents to be less inclined to provide honest answers. Lack of incentives or compensation can make it difficult for respondents to fill out an application.

Online questionnaires can also pose challenging for certain experiment designs, such as studies of reaction time or positioning. The varying settings of browsers, screen sizes, and operating systems makes it challenging to control and measure the same variables across different participants.

The bottom line is that Web-based surveys can only be accessed by people who have keyboards and Internet literate. This excludes a significant portion of the population. It is also difficult for Web researchers to update participants after the window for their experiment has closed.