The fallacy of online surveys: No data are better than bad data

  • Duda M
  • Nobile J
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Internet or online surveys have become attractive to fish and wildlife agencies as an economical way to measure constituents' opinions and attitudes on a variety of issues. Online surveys, however, can have several drawbacks that affect the scientific validity of the data. We describe four basic problems that online surveys currently present to researchers and then discuss three research projects conducted in collaboration with state fish and wildlife agencies that illustrate these drawbacks. Each research project involved an online survey and/or a corresponding random telephone survey or non-response bias analysis. Systematic elimination of portions of the sample population in the online survey is demonstrated in each research project (i.e., the definition of bias). One research project involved a closed population, which enabled a direct comparison of telephone and online results with the total population.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Internet surveys
  • Non-response bias
  • Public opinion
  • Sample validity
  • Slop surveys

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  • Mark Damian Duda

  • Joanne L. Nobile

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