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Sampling and Response: The experience of conducting an online student survey. Donna Poade.

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Presentation on theme: "Sampling and Response: The experience of conducting an online student survey. Donna Poade."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sampling and Response: The experience of conducting an online student survey. Donna Poade

2 Overview of Presentation: l Background to the study l Online surveys as a research tool l Methodological issues in online survey research l Sampling and response l Our study l Tips for conducting online research

3 Background to the Study l First national survey of attitudes towards quantitative research amongst sociology and politics students across Universities in England and Wales l Whole study conducted November – March 2005/6 l Exploratory phase conducted followed by online survey l Builds on previous study of sociology departments and teaching staff

4 Online Survey Research l What is online survey research? l Expansion in using online resources as a medium for data collection l Types of online surveys: Web based or web page surveys Combination of two elements Surveys are the most implemented online research methodology in social research (Hewson et al 2003)

5 Online Survey Research Web Page Open webSimple Closed web attachment Hidden web URL embedded Source: Bradley (1999)

6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Survey Research AdvantagesDisadvantages TimeTechnical issues Cost efficiencyExpertise Access to wider population Threats to data validity

7 Methodological Issues l Methodological issues cited in the literature l Sampling issues l Response rates, including non response and response effects l Ethical issues, including privacy, confidentiality and informed consent l Practical issues such as incentives l Security l Technology

8 Sampling issues l Sampling bias l Sampling frames l Internal/External l Sampling approaches l Random Digit Dialling?

9 Sampling issues l Some sample sources: l /Website directories l Customer records l Pop up surveys l Harvested addresses l Registration Forms l Hardware, software and user ability

10 Response Rates l Inconclusive or inconsistent studies on online response rates l What is an acceptable response rate? l Response rates to online surveys 10% or lower l Response rates appear to be lower than for other more traditional methods

11 Our Study l Hard to reach population l Why did we choose this method? l Random sample of 34 sociology units in English and Welsh universities l URL embedded administered via a gatekeeper between January and April 2006

12 Whats the issue with non- response? l The Over-Surveying Effect l The sociology of non-response: (Tourangeau, 2006) l Non-contact (face to face) l Non-cooperation (too busy, self absorbed and erecting barriers) l Inability to provide data (physically or mentally) l Unfavourable societal developments on all three fronts (lack of civic engagement, obligations and more intrusions)

13 Response Rates in our Study l 738 responses equivalent to 12.8% for online survey l Prompted a boost by self completion paper surveys in some low responding units l Lowest reported online 1% (Basi 1999) l Response spikes attributed to the level and type of intervention l Less Socially desirable responses received

14 Tips for conducting online survey research l Consider appropriate sampling method l Use technical safeguards l Multi-modal approach l Response effects

15 Tips for conducting online survey research l Response effects: l Design (sponsor, personalised) l Incentives, l Pre-notification l Salience of topic l Piloting l Quality and repeat contact with respondents (including follow ups)

16 Summary l Methodological issues: the sample, the gate- keepers and the method l Never know the true sample bias l Are we right to be concerned? l What does the future hold for online survey research? l What is the best way of researching student populations?


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