Ready to collect data via the web? For specialized research studies, those freebie apps might not measure up. Here’s why.
There’s never been a better time to gather information using the internet.
Web-based surveys are a fast, cheap, consistent way to collect data. No more paper copies or manual data entry. Better yet, many survey tools are free.
But you probably already know that.
If you’re a researcher, you also know that as good as free online survey sites can be, sometimes you just need more. With all the survey websites available today, isn’t there one that can do exactly what you need?
Maybe not. Not for highly specialized research.
Why? Because most online web survey applications are built for mass data collection. (Poll: “Which is better: Coke, or Pepsi?”) They offer multiple question types–multiple choice, open ended, checkbox lists—and a myriad of formatting options. They let you easily collect tens of thousands of responses just by sending out a hyperlink.
In our experience, assessment research studies are a bit different from all that. They don’t need a million “Coke vs. Pepsi”-type survey participants. Instead, they need detailed, high-value information from teachers, committee participants, and other educators. And they don’t need as many responses—sometimes a few dozen participants are all a researcher will need.
Assessment studies are different in other ways, too. Respondents are expected to provide deeper, more thoughtful feedback than a typical opinion poll or mass-market survey. Their answers are used in tech reports, accountability documents, and other assessment-related documentation. And it’s not unusual for participants to spend 15-20 minutes per session, which is far longer than most free online survey tools are designed to handle.
Assessment research surveys or questionnaires often require a host of additional features, such as:
- pre-populated data (i.e., a teacher can logs in and sees a full roster of her students)
- additional training and other information for respondents, such as PDF files, videos, etc.
- a temporary website to serve as a platform for the survey’s educational materials
- secure, user-based login credentials
- a method for “remembering” a participant’s responses if they leave the session mid-stream
- a method for avoiding multiple or duplicate responses from the same participant
… and so on.
We have experience with many of the largest survey applications used today (free and paid). We’ve even had a go at building our own. We know their limitations, their strengths, and how to tweak them for maximum effect. We also know what alternatives exist to free survey sites and how to manage them.
As a result of our experience, we now offer online data collection as a core service.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help.