Using Internet Surveys for Research



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Using Internet Surveys for Research

  • Barbara J. Myers
  • Department of Psychology

Why do we use Internet surveys?

  • Rare populations
  • Hard-to-find populations
  • Populations that cannot come to you

Why do we use Internet surveys?

  • Convenient for participants
  • Low-cost—No paper, no postage
  • Data entry is automatic

When you have their e-mails—send the announcement straight to them

  • Other researchers could target participants . . .
  • When you have their e-mails—send the announcement straight to them
  • Participants who do not show up for appointments to take surveys
  • Participants who are on the internet in the middle of the night

Our 3 studies using internet surveys

  • Parents of children with autism (N = 520)
  • Parents of children with either autism (n = 212) or Down syndrome (n = 68)
  • Parents from India, now living outside India, with children with autism (n = 27)

Recruitment of our samples

  • E-mail contact with organizations that these parents use
    • Autism Society of America
    • Every state, county, city chapter
    • Asked them to place a notice in their newsletters or link on their webpage
    • Over 220 organizations contacted

Inquisite program

  • Creating the questionnaires
  • Inquisite program
  • Get the CD and install it on your computer
  • Inquisite walks you through formatting of survey

Button-type answers

  • Our questions
  • Button-type answers
  • Short-answer fill-in (e.g., other medications not already listed?)
  • Some questions branched
  • Open-ended questions had room for essay-length qualitative answers
  • We asked TONS of questions

Entry page stated purpose of the survey

  • Explaining purpose of study to participants
  • Entry page stated purpose of the survey
  • Told them who we were, our contact info
  • That this was research
  • Estimated time to take survey
  • That they were free to not take part
  • That submitting their answers constituted granting CONSENT to be in study

We collected no identifying information

  • Protecting confidentiality
  • We collected no identifying information
  • No names, addresses, birthdates, emails
  • No information on where they saw notice about study
  • We don’t know who they are and will never contact them again

First stored in Inquisite file, with password protection

  • Accessing our data
  • First stored in Inquisite file, with password protection
  • Inquisite transforms data to SPSS or ACCESS
  • Stored these datasets on office computers
  • (Inquisite writes little reports that are useless)

Data from 1st study—7 papers published or in press

  • Do we get publishable research?
  • Data from 1st study—7 papers published or in press
    • Goin-Kochel, R.P., Mackintosh, V.H., & Myers, B.J. (in press—accepted 11-24-2008). Parental reports on the efficacy of treatments and therapies for their children with autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
    • Myers, B.J., Mackintosh, V.H., & Goin-Kochel, R.P. (in press—accepted 09-09-2008). “My greatest joy and my greatest heart ache:” Parents’ own words on how having a child in the autism spectrum has affected their lives and their families’ lives. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
    • Goin-Kochel, R. P., Mackintosh, V.H., & Myers, B.J. (2007). Parental reports on the use of treatments and therapies for children with autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 1, 195-209.
    • Mackintosh, V.H., & Goin-Kochel, R.P., & Myers, B.J. (2006). Sources of Information and Support Used by Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal on Developmental Disabilities, 12 (1), 41-51.
    • Goin-Kochel, R.P., Mackintosh, V.H., & Myers, B.J. (2006). How Many Doctors Does It Take to Make an Autism-Spectrum Diagnosis? Autism, 10 (5), 439-451.
    • Goin-Kochel, R.P. & Myers, B.J. (2005). The congenital vs. regressive onset of autism and parents’ beliefs about causes. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 20 (3), 169-179.
    • Goin-Kochel, R.P. & Myers, B.J. (2005). Parental report of early autistic symptoms: Differences in ages of detection and frequencies of characteristics among three autism-spectrum disorders. Journal on Developmental Disabilities, 11(2), 21-39.
  • Other two studies—manuscripts in progress

Budget for these 3 studies?

  • Zero
  • Zero
  • Zero

Sample is limited to people who own computers and use internet

  • Drawbacks
  • Sample is limited to people who own computers and use internet
  • Potential for junk responses

Ability to locate rare populations

  • Advantages of internet surveys
  • Ability to locate rare populations
  • Ease of data collection—automatic
  • Convenient for participants
  • Ability to collect an abundance of data
  • Scientific journals publish the work
  • Low budget, no budget, sustainable research

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