Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Paper/Pencil versus Online Data Collection: An Exploratory Study

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Paper/Pencil versus Online Data Collection: An Exploratory Study

Article excerpt

Online research methods have been used with leisure studies over 30 times in top-tier leisure journals from January 2000 to present (Dodd, Zabriskie, Widmer, & Eggett, 2009; Gladwell, Dorwart, Stone, & Hammond, 2010; Li & Petrick, 2010; Swinton, Freeman, Zabriskie, & Fields, 2008; Tu, Chen, Wang, & Lin, 2007). Although the trend of implementing this technique is growing in many disciplines, particularly strong growth has been evident in social and leisure sciences (Cronk & West, 2002; Granello & Wheaton, 2004; Hardre, Crowson, Xie, & Ly, 2007; Rademacher & Lippke, 2007; Wright & Schwager, 2008). For example, in 2001 only one article using online methods was published in a major leisure journal, whereas three major leisure journals published 10 studies using online methods in 2009 and the beginning of 2010. Increased usage of online methods is apparent in leisure research, yet the investigation into whether online methods and traditional methods produce the same participant responses has not been explored in a leisure setting.

Benefits of online data collection lead some researchers to posit these methods will continue to grow and may even replace traditional paper data collection (Lefever, Dal, & Matthiasdottir, 2007). Among reported advantages of online data collection are financial savings, fewer time limitations, more accurate data collection, easier access to large populations, and increased anonymity for study participants (Aluja, Rossier, & Zuckerman, 2007; Buchanan, 2002; Cronk & West, 2002; Davis, 1999; Miller et al., 2002; Riva, Teruzzi, & Anolli, 2003). In spite of these advantages, several disadvantages to online data collection have also been noted, including difficulty in sampling select participants and variation of the instruments' reliability when compared to traditional data collection methods (Granello & Wheaton, 2004; Lefever et al, 2007; Schillewaert & Meulemeester, 2005; Topp & Pawloski, 2002).

As utilization of online research methods increases, studies continuing to examine this trend are needed (Lonsdale, Hodge, & Rose, 2006; Raat, Mangunkusumo, Landgraf, Kloek, & Brug, 2007), specifically studies detailing the performance of leisure instruments as to how they compare to their paper/pencil counterparts. Some have advocated testing an instrument online is essential regardless of previous paper/pencil results (Aluja et al., 2007; Buchanan, 2002; Buchanan et al., 2005; Davis, 1999; Hewson & Charlton, 2005; Touvier et al., 2010). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare the use of online data collection with the paper/ pencil versions of six instruments often used in leisure research.

Review of Literature

Growth in the use of online data collection procedures is a direct result of many people having easy access to the World Wide Web (Granello & Wheaton, 2004). However, social science researchers are sometimes using traditional paper/ pencil instruments adapted for online use without understanding the implications they may have for the study's results. Akin to other social sciences, previous leisure studies utilizing online versions of traditional instruments cannot be generalized to all instruments (Buchanan, 2002). Therefore the literature review will discuss what is unique about leisure research, advantages and disadvantages of online data collection, and further related considerations.

Leisure Research

Leisure instruments need to be studied independently of other social science instruments. Participating in leisure is different than nearly any other activity people do or mind-set they are in (Kelly, 1996; Mannell & Kleiber, 1997). Leisure invites the use of personal freedom and is an expression of how individuals intrinsically choose to exercise that freedom (Nash, 1953). In light of this, Mannell and Kleiber (1997) suggest people's leisure behavior may be different than their behavior in situations encountered more regularly. …

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