Internet vs. Telephone ... The Weaknesses (Part 3)

Following up on our earlier discussions on the value of Internet vs. telephone surveys (Issue #5) and the strengths of each (Issue #7), now we will examine the drawbacks of the two common research methodologies.�

Weaknesses of the Internet survey methodology:

  • Internet population demographics are not directly representive of the off-line population.

  • For general population surveys, there is a need to control for the Internet's demographic skews (i.e., income, education).

  • Non-response bias can affect sample representation and validity (passionate positive/negative responder bias).

  • Verification of survey respondent identity is more difficult.

  • As a passive methodology, forcing necessary quota groups can be difficult.

  • A moderate to high relationship with the respondent is needed to achieve necessary response rates.

  • The survey subject needs to be relevant and interesting to the respondent.

  • The ability to probe a respondent is often not as effective compared to an interview with a live person.

  • Respondents often have a lower level of trust regarding the guarantee of anonymity and confidentiality.

  • There is a greater likelihood of technical "gliches," for example, due to required 24/7 availability and tendency for large volume of respondents to reply within first 48 hours.

Weaknesses of the telephone survey methodology:

  • Response rates can get low if not carefully managed, leading to representation issues.

  • Some respondents perceive telephone surveys as more invasive.

  • Surveys can only be conducted during certain times of day.

  • Data collection often takes longer compared to an Internet methodology and is less convenient to respondents.

  • Unskilled interviewers can affect results by leading/influencing respondents.

  • Unsupervised interviewer cheating can occur.

  • Telephone surveys are more expensive than an Internet methodology.

  • Open-ends need to be transcribed.

  • The same survey often takes a little longer on the phone because it takes longer to have questionnaire read to respondent.and some respondents can be wordy.

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