Limitations of Questionnaires and Web Experiments

Web-based research and questionnaires are essential epidemiologic tools that offer vital information about public health and diseases. They are a standard method of collecting data that is often less costly and time-consuming than face to-face interviews, mailed questionnaires or automated menus for telephone systems. However questionnaires and Web experiments have significant limitations that need to be addressed in order to ensure reliable and valid results.

A questionnaire may be affected by response bias. This is the tendency for respondents to answer questions based on their opinions and not on research goals. In addition, the design of the questionnaire can influence responses in different ways. For example the language used in the questions can affect whether respondents understand and interpret the question in the same way (reliable) to determine the topic you’re interested in (valid) or are able to answer in a timely manner (credible).

Respondents might also experience survey fatigue or a lack of interest in the questions, which reduces the likelihood of them providing honest responses. Lack of incentive or compensation might make it difficult for respondents to fill out survey forms.

Online questionnaires also pose challenges for some experimental designs, like reaction-time or positioning studies. It is challenging to control and measure variables across participants because of the differences in settings for browsers operating systems, browser settings, and sizes of screens.

In the end, web-based surveys can only be accessed by those who are keyboard and Internet literate. This excludes a large portion of the population. It is also difficult for Web researchers to provide participants with a report after the experiment window has ended.

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