Limitations of Questionnaires and Web Experiments


Web-based research and questionnaires are vital methods for analyzing epidemiology and offer vital information about public health and disease. They are the most commonly used methods of collecting data that are often less costly and time-consuming than face-to-face meetings, mailed questionnaires, or automated telephone menu systems. Questionnaires and Web experiments aren’t without limitations, and these must be addressed to achieve reliable and valid results.

A questionnaire could be influenced by response bias, the tendency of respondents to answer questions based on their own opinions, not the research goals. The structure of a questionnaire can influence responses in a variety of ways. For instance the language of the question could influence whether respondents are able to comprehend the question and interpret it in the same way (reliable) or whether the question reflects what you are interested in (valid), and whether they are able to accurately answer (credible).

Respondents might also experience survey fatigue or a lack of interest in the questions, which reduces the likelihood of them providing honest answers. Lack of incentive or compensation might also discourage participants from filling out survey forms.

Online questionnaires can be an issue for certain experimental designs like studies of response time or positioning. The varying settings of browsers as well as screen sizes and operating systems makes it challenging to measure and control the same variables across different participants.

Furthermore, Web-based surveys are only available to those who are keyboard and Internet literate, which currently excludes a significant portion of the population. It is also difficult for Web researchers debriefing participants after the experiment window has closed.

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