Online Surveys: Valid or Not?

One day last summer, being the most indebted and impoverished that I have been my entire student life, I was thrilled to stumble across a website that pays you to fill out online surveys. The website claimed to offer several surveys that would take 10 minutes or less, with a monetary reward at completion. Being desperate for a few extra bucks to go towards my weekend adventures, I immediately started doing as many as I could.

I began to realize that many people had also stumbled across my online treasure and that often times particular age or gender stratifications were already full. Increasingly, when I would sign in to do a survey, I would be notified that too many “20–24 males” had already completed the survey. I will admit, to counter this problem, at times I was slightly inaccurate with my personal information. Additionally, when I was in a rush, simply filling in a few bubbles without fully reading the questions did not seem like the worst idea.

After doing this for a few surveys, I realized that there was simply no control of what I put for my personal information, my answers or whatever else. I could be an alien from Mars for all they cared. There was no interviewer to humanize the process and I figured who were the researchers to question my answers to very subjective and personal questions. This is a problem not only with self-report surveys but especially online self-report surveys. The surveys did seem to be asking very particular questions, often times about specific companies and their products. I wondered how much credence companies put into these statistics and whether the data collected actually influenced their marketing and business strategy.

I did a little research and came across an interesting article about online surveys. It stated that online surveys had many advantages including global reach, speed, convenience, ease of follow-up and many others (Evans and Mathur, 2005). They also said that as long as the sample of individuals is large enough, it would be representative of the true population.

Maybe I am in the minority, however, based upon how easy it was for me to be dishonest on the surveys I completed, I find it hard to put a lot of faith into the results from these kinds of tests.

Here is the link if you would like to try it out (or earn a few extra bucks):

Student ID: 260410107


Evans, J. R., & Mathur, A. (2005). The value of online surveys. Internet research, 15(2), 195–219.

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