The advancement in technology is a main factor that has led to the evolution of survey methods and survey tools. Web survey is currently the most advanced method of data collection because it uses websites and utilizes diverse tools (Mrug, 2010). Owing to increasing needs of researchers, survey designers have created survey tools to improve and ease the process of data collection. Fan and Yan (2010) note that web survey is better than traditional methods because it reduces transmission time, adds design options, lowers delivery cost, and shortens data entry time. A search through the Internet reveals that SurveyMonkey, Typeform, Google Forms, Survey Gizmo, Client Heartbeat, and Survey Planet are some of the common online survey tools, which offer free and paid services to researchers. Normally, free surveys have reduced customization features, whereas paid services have additional customization features. Therefore, to explain how researchers employ online survey tools, this essay examines SurveyMonkey and demonstrates its use in the design of the questionnaire and data collection with the objective of highlighting advantages of online surveys over paper surveys.
Review of Survey Monkey
A review of SurveyMonkey shows that it offers free and paid surveys to researchers from various fields ranging from business to education. In SurveyMonkey, academic surveys show numerous templates created by different educational institutions. Comparisons of two academic templates of healthy living, namely, ‘You in 12 Months’ and ‘Endurance Events Feedback’, indicates the existence of similarities and differences in options and usability (“Healthy living survey templates,” 2018). Options for responses are similar for both templates have checkboxes arranged on an ordinal scale of 1-5. While the first template used checkboxes only, the second template employed a combination of checkboxes, textboxes, and rating scale. Another difference is that the first template has six questions, whereas the second template has 15 questions. The first template is more usable than the second template because it has uniform options and scale of measurement in all the questions.
To meet diverse needs of clients, SurveyMonkey offers four types of survey platforms, namely, basic, standard, advantage, and premier platforms. The basic platform is free and provides unlimited surveys with a maximum of 10 questions and 100 responses per survey. Comparatively, the standard platform costs 35 dollars per month and gives unlimited surveys and questions with a maximum of 1000 responses per survey. In this platform, a researcher can access survey tools such as customization of surveys (colors, logo, URL), exportation of data in PDF, XLS, CSV, and PTT formats, skip logic, text analysis, and survey analysis. The advantage platform costs 408 dollars per year and offers supplementary tools such as expedited mail response, two users, SPSS data export, multilingual surveys, and industry benchmarks. The premier platform is the most expensive for it charges 1188 dollars per year. The platform offers expedited phone and mail support and advanced customization features, such as custom variables, enhanced branching, and block randomization, and white labels as special survey tools.
In social sciences, the appropriate topic that could be studied using the quantitative approach is the usage of social media in the society. The emergence of social networking sites, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, has changed the mechanism of socialization. According to Jan and Soomro (2017), social media has enabled people to create relationships, share information, connect with people globally, improve their behaviors, and achieve healthier social lives. Thus, the study of the usage of social media would depict the nature of relationships, information, connections, behaviors, and lives of people across age groups. According to Towner and Munoz (2016), Baby Boomers are dependent on traditional media, while Millennials are reliant on online media as a source of information, which shapes their knowledge, perceptions, and attitudes. Hence, while undertaking a particular study, researchers ought to understand demographic preferences of the target population so that they could use appropriate media of communication and data collection.
In the study of the usage of social media, the number of hours one spends on social media sites is the variable that can be computed using the quantitative research design. The number of hours is a suitable variable because it quantifies the usage of social media on daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. Time is a factor that influences the duration and the frequency of social media usage. Quinn, Chen, Mulvenna, and Bond (2016) established that younger users are active on social media during the weekday, evening, and morning, whereas older users are active in the morning and evening irrespective of the day of the week. The changes in the usage of social media reflect demographic differences between the old and the young people. Thus, the number of hours per day, week, or month that individuals take in accessing social media is a valid and reliable variable for measuring social media usage.
A Four-Item Instrument
Please indicate your level of social media usage by answering the following four questions as prompted.
- How often do you log into your preferred social media site?
|Frequency||Monthly||Fortnightly||Weekly||Daily||Twice a day||Thrice a day||2-5 hours||Hourly|
- How many hours do you spend on your preferred social media site after logging into it?
- How many hours do you spend on your preferred social media site daily?
|Hours||Less than 1||2-3||4-6||8-10||11-12||12-14||14-16||More than 16|
- How many hours do you spend on your preferred social media site weekly?
Population of Interest
The population of interest is users of social media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Tumblr. The age group of social media users ranges from 20 years to 50 years because it comprises adults who are not only computer literate but also able to use diverse social media networks. In selecting a survey method, researchers should consider literacy level, demographic restrictions, and availability of the target population (“Survey Research,” 2006). Since the main challenge of online surveys is low response rates, Mclnroy (2016) recommends the use of the passive and active recruitment approaches in the sampling of participants. In the passive recruitment approach, researchers post questionnaires in social media for potential participants to read and answer questions on their own. In the active recruitment method, researchers take part in the sampling process by contacting and requesting potential clients to participate in the study. If I were recruiting participants physically, I would have changed my approach to active recruitment process only. In this approach, I would have looked for potential participants in their classes, offices, and streets, and then administer the designed questionnaire.
Experience of Completing Questionnaire
The completion of the questionnaire was simple and easy because the questions are readable. A well-designed questionnaire has clear, precise, and specific wording of research questions (“Questionnaire design,” 2014). Outcomes of the questionnaire show that I have an average usage of social media. The simple language employed in the questions eases the readability and understanding of required answers. Maroney and Cameron (2016) consider questionnaire as conversation, which requires adaptation to meet mental models of the target population. As there are four items in the questionnaire, it took less than a minute to complete it.
Comparison of Approaches
Critical analysis of the study of the usage of social media indicates that the most appropriate strategy of data collection is through the online survey. The advantages of the online survey are that it provides quick, easy, cheap, flexible, versatile, and simple processes of data collection and analysis. The online survey also reduces misreporting of sensitive topics, such as abortion, drug abuse, and sexual behavior, due to the anonymity of respondents (Mclnroy, 2016; Tourangeau & Yan, 2007). However, the weaknesses are that the online survey achieves low response rate, targets limited population, lacks participant’s cooperation, and does not permit an interview. The advantages of the in-person survey are that it allows conversations, gives high response rate, provide valid data, and targets vast population (Mrug, 2010). The in-person survey is expensive and labor intensive because researchers have to print questionnaires, visit potential participants, and perform data entry. As online surveys are advantageous, they are appropriate in the study of social issues among the youth, such as drug abuse, abortion, bully, and sexual abuse.
Online survey provides numerous tools that enhance the process of data collection. The examination of SurveyMonkey shows that it offers free and paid survey services with practical tools, such as survey templates, versatile exportation formats, customization features, and data analysis tools. The study on the usage of social media demonstrates the design of a four-item questionnaire, which offers critical insights of data collection. Comparatively, online surveys are appropriate in the data collection for the target population exhibits significant online presence.
Fan, W., & Yan, Z (2010). Factors affecting response rates of the web survey: A systematic review. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(1), 132-139. Web.
Healthy living survey templates. (2018). Web.
Jan, M., Soomro, A., & Ahmad, N. (2017). Impact of social media on self-esteem. European Scientific Journal, 13(23), 329-341. Web.
Maroney, W., & Cameron, J. (2016). The questionnaire as conversation: Time for a paradigm shift, or at least a paradigm nudge? The Quarterly of Human Factors Applications, 24(2), 10-15. Web.
Mclnroy, L. (2016). Pitfalls, potentials, and ethics of online survey research: LGBTQ and other marginalized and hard-to-access youths. Social Work Research, 40(2), 83-94. Web.
Mrug, S. (2010). Survey. In N. J. Salkind (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Research Design (pp. 1120-1270). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Questionnaire design. (2014). Web.
Quinn, D., Chen, L., Mulvenna, M. D., & Bond, R. (2016). Exploring the relationship between online social network site usage and the impact on quality of life for older and younger users: An interaction analysis. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 18(9), 1-16. Web.
Survey Research: Selecting the survey method. (2006). Web.
Tourangeau, R., & Yan, T. (2007). Sensitive questions in surveys. Psychological Bulletin, 133(5), 859-883. Web.
Towner, T., & Munoz, C. (2016). Boomers versus Millennials: Online media influence on media performance and candidate evaluations. Social Sciences, 5(56), 1-20. Web.