Opinions of Expert Academicians on Online Data Collection and Voluntary Participation in Social Sciences Research

By Kýlýnç, Hakan; Fırat, Mehmet | Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri, October 2017 | Go to article overview

Opinions of Expert Academicians on Online Data Collection and Voluntary Participation in Social Sciences Research


Kýlýnç, Hakan, Fırat, Mehmet, Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri


The comparison of data collection through online surveys and face-to-face surveys has become a key research topic occupying the social science research agenda in recent years (Akbulut, 2015). These comparisons show the two different formats to have psychometric equivalence (Brock, Barry, Lawrence, Dey, & Rolffs, 2012; Hedman et al., 2010). Participants are considered as a single source for revealing the psychometric properties of both formats and for measuring the margin of error (Castro, 2013). Therefore, participants' voluntary involvement in a survey is a decisive factor in determining margin of error (Chesney & Penny, 2013). For this reason, as indicated by Spruce and Bol (2015), one can say that voluntary participation in data collection through the survey method is of critical value in terms of a research's success and accuracy.

Voluntariness, which is frequently voiced but rarely understood or practiced correctly in research ethics, is defined as a choice or action performed without others' influence or being subjected to any compelling external exposure (Agrawal, 2003). Studies show that survey answers tend to be less misleading when respondents voluntarily participate in a scientific research questionnaire (Chesney & Penny, 2013).

In other words, without voluntary participation, survey participants can report their desired behaviors while hiding unwanted ones (Kreuter, Presser, & Tourangeau, 2008). Those who involuntarily participate in the data collection process through either online or face-to-face surveys can give misleading information about their gender (Zaheer & Griffiths, 2008), academic performance (Kuncel, Credé, & Thomas, 2005), and physical characteristics (Toma, Hancock, & Ellison, 2008). Based on the relevant studies (Hoerger, 2010; Naquin, Kurtzberg, & Belkin, 2010), the rate of misleading information can be said to vary depending on the survey technique used in the research process (online or face-to-face).

One methodological consideration is which survey technique provides voluntariness and reduces misleading answers for a given situations. Naquin et al. (2010) found that respondents who answer surveys by email were more misleading than respondents who give paper-based responses. Hoerger (2010), however, noted that online surveys are an important part of the psychological research process in the context of ethical and voluntary participation. Accordingly, in research where respondents are sensitive and do not want their identities to be exposed, online surveys may provide more flexible and positive results than face-to-face surveys. On this point, one can say that both survey techniques have certain advantages and disadvantages.

In a study comparing the superiorities and deficiencies of survey techniques, Tiene (2000) noted that the required explanations can be made in face-to-face surveys if the question posed cannot be understood because the participant is in the same physical environment. This situation is said to increase the cooperation and trust between participant and researcher. The same study also cites that among the deficiencies of the face-to-face survey technique are the effects of the surveyors' prejudices and misbehaviors on the quality of data being collected, the process being time consuming and costly, and the need for a large number of interviewees. Heiervang and Goodman (2011) stated in their study that the online survey technique has advantages such as being able to quickly and inexpensively collect data. On the other hand, they emphasized participants' inability to find a competent authority to ask questions of when having a problem responding to the survey as a deficiency of this technique.

That researchers compare the advantages and deficiencies of both survey techniques is important for being able to select the appropriate survey technique for a study. Selecting the right survey technique contributes to participants' voluntary involvement in a survey. …

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