Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Does academia benefit from online survey software? Part II

Just as we thought we had put together a comprehensive list of academic papers using data collected with Webropol, we got news of a new, interesting paper. This one was presented just a few weeks ago at the 17th European Conference on Information Systems held in Verona, Italy.

While the paper provides very useful findings for marketers of video games, it also shows many benefits of online surveys. While we won't go into the obvious benefits of easiness to respond, real-time access to reports, and collecting data directly in digital form, we will, however, discuss three other very central things. These are, in fact, things that don't at first seem so obvious.

1. Testing the survey: The researchers tested the survey on colleagues and a test group before it went live. It’s really easy to send out drafts for commenting and run a test once the questionnaire is complete. If you get suggestions and corrections, it’s really easy to do changes to the online survey form. You might even consider gathering the feedback using a form of its own, neatly collecting all answers in one place.

2. Doing step-wise research: During the first two data collection sessions, it was tested whether respondents categorized adjectives used by the researchers according to what theory suggested. Once this was confirmed, the remaining respondents did not need to categorize adjectives at all, perhaps increasing the response rate thanks to a shorter survey. Still, the researchers were able prove validity of the survey as a whole.

3. Using images: In this specific case cover pictures of real video games were shown to the respondents. Not only do images give a good impression, but they can also be used as part of the questions. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Just with a quick glance the respondent knows what’s the point of the question, rather than having to read a long description. Furthermore, the advantage of online surveys over paper forms is that there are no grainy black-and-white copies to look at – just sharp, digital images. (Or have you ever had a telephone interviewer describe you a picture in detail over the phone!)

In case you are interested in online survey software, please visit the Webropol website! The research paper titled ”The Hedonic and Utilitarian Value of Digital Games at Product Category Level” can be accessed here.

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