Limitations of Questionnaires and Web Experiments

Questionnaires and web experiments are an essential method of epidemiology, providing important information about the state of public health and disease. They are a standard method of collecting data that is often less expensive and time-consuming than face-to-face interviews, paper questionnaires mailed or automated menus for telephone systems. However, questionnaires and Web experiments have a number of limitations that must be addressed to ensure that they are reliable and valid results.

A questionnaire may be affected by response bias. This is the tendency of respondents to answer questions based on their personal opinions instead of research goals. The layout of a survey can influence responses in many ways. For instance the wording of the question may affect whether the respondents comprehend the question and interpret it in the same way (reliable) and whether the question is a good indicator of the topic you are looking for (valid), and whether they can 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 responses. In addition, the absence of incentives or monetary compensation could discourage participants from taking the time to fill out survey forms.

Online questionnaires can also be a challenge for certain experimental designs, like studies of reaction time or position. It is challenging to measure and control variables across participants due to the differences in settings for browsers, operating systems, and the size of screens.

Additionally, surveys conducted on the Web are only accessible to those who have keyboards and are Internet proficient, which excludes a significant proportion of the population. It is also difficult for Web researchers to report on participants after the experiment window has closed.