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Web-based Research & Surveys. Fuschia M. Sirois. A Research Ethics Board Educational Seminar . Web-based Research & Surveys. Outline Purpose Brief overview of the pros and cons of web-based surveys Group exercise Examining specific ethical issues and possible solutions

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Fuschia m sirois

Web-based Research & Surveys

Fuschia M. Sirois

A Research Ethics Board Educational Seminar 

Web based research surveys
Web-based Research & Surveys


  • Purpose

  • Brief overview of the pros and cons of web-based surveys

  • Group exercise

  • Examining specific ethical issues and possible solutions

  • Sample web-based survey

  • Questions and answers

Web based research surveys1
Web-based Research & Surveys

Purpose of this seminar is to:

  • familiarize you with some of the ethical issues and concerns that arise when conducting on-line research

  • offer possible solutions to help you address these issues when preparing the REB application

  • provide a discussion forum for the exchange of ideas on how to deal with online research issues

On line surveys
On-line Surveys

  • Growing in popularity as a research tool

  • Many advantages

    • Low cost, large samples, specialized samples, less time for data collection and entry

  • Some disadvantages

    • Fluidity of virtual contact

    • Challenges for delivering compensation, incentives

Online surveys vs mail surveys
Online Surveys vs. Mail Surveys

Working in groups, discuss & list

5 ways that on-line surveys are

  • similar to mail surveys

  • different from mail surveys

  • Focus on areas that are of particular relevance for conducting ethical research

  • Take about 10 mins.

  • Recruitment advertising
    Recruitment & Advertising

    So you have a web-survey

    • how do you advertise it to your target population?


  • EX: The organization you wish to sample from offers to give you the email list of its members

    • Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act [FIPPA]

  • Get a short url (Web team)

    • www.uwindsor.ca/IBDStudy

  • Recruitment advertising1
    Recruitment & Advertising

    Several options

    • Email

    • Newsletter (electronic or paper)

    • Online ads

      • Google adwords, Kijjiji.ca, Craigslists.com, etc.

    • Online forums, newsgroups, bulletin boards for target population

      • Request permission to post on boards

        • Facilitates better response and guards against removal of study ad

    • Community postings

    Informed consent issues
    Informed Consent Issues

    • Consent implied by submission of survey (letter of information: LOF)

      • Clicking on agree demonstrates consent and links to start of survey

      • Include note to print out copy for their records

    • Don’t include LOF in email sent out

    • Suggest providing link to welcome page which then links to LOF

    • Set up either in Lotus Notes database

      • Includes UWindsor logo, easy to set up

    Anonymity of responses
    Anonymity of Responses

    • Making survey responses anonymous

      • Don’t request personal contact info

      • Don’t add code to responses

      • Ensuring anonymity may increase response rate for certain populations

    • Right to withdraw?

      • limited

      • Make this clear in letter of information

    • If responses need to be identifiable, then new issues…..

    Confidentiality issues
    Confidentiality Issues

    If you need to track participants

    • Link data across two time points

    • User code

      • Self-generated?

        • The case of 5 Buffy123’s

      • Provide instructions for creating code

        Choice of survey software/host

      • Where is the survey server located?

      • US-based survey hosts and the Patriot Act

        • Nature of the data should guide decision to use non-Canadian based servers

    Compensation incentives
    Compensation & Incentives

    • Draw vs. pay per person

      • different issues

    • Optional draw

      • End of survey window with option to click mailto: link to send email

      • “Enter me in the Draw” in the subject line

    • Pay per survey

      • Beware of response floods!

      • Identify survey responses with code which is sent in email

      • E-certificates for payment

    Other issues
    Other Issues

    • Explanation of study page

      • If participant “x’s” out, how do they get this information?

        • Program to automatically open explanation page if participant prematurely exits survey

        • Include a “leave the study” button on every web page of the survey that would direct them to the explanation page

    • Resources page with links

      • Same issues and possible solutions

    • Solutions limited by the capabilities of the software used

    Some final thoughts
    Some final thoughts….

    • Ways to deal with these issues may change as technology/programming advances

    • However such changes may also introduce new challenges to be dealt with

    • Creativity and due diligence

    Resources for conducting on line research
    Resources for Conducting On-line Research

    • 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(3), article 11. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol10/issue3/wright.html

      • Provides comprehensive list of on-line survey software and comparative table

    • Psychological Research Online: Opportunities and Challenges

      • http://www.apa.org/science/apainternetresearch.pdf

    • Marketing Research Association Ethical Guidelines for Internet Research

      • http://www.mra-net.org/pdf/internet_ethics_guidelines.PDF

    • The Association of Internet Researchers is an academic association dedicated to the advancement of the cross-disciplinary field of Internet studies. It is a member-based support network promoting critical and scholarly Internet research independent from traditional disciplines and existing across academic borders. The association is international in scope.

      • http://www.aoir.org/

    Fuschia m sirois1

    Web-based Research & Surveys


    Fuschia M. Sirois

    A Research Ethics Board Educational Seminar