In an environment of declining survey response rates, decreased use of landline telephones, and rising costs of telephone and in-person surveys, political science researchers have increasingly turned to online surveys to measure public opinion. In light of the growing prevalence of online surveys in peer-reviewed journals, it is important to recognize the wide variation in their design and quality. In the most literal sense, an online survey simply refers to a particular mode of interviewing in which the respondent self-completes a questionnaire over the Internet, whether on a computer, tablet, or cell phone. However, conducting surveys online is far more complex than simply relocating an in-person or phone survey onto the Internet. Online surveys use a variety of different sampling designs, recruitment strategies, and implementation procedures, all of which have implications for data quality. Some online surveys use probability-based designs, such as those sampled from a known population list of e-mail addresses (e.g., a university or business). Multimode probability-based surveys are also increasingly common, such as samples drawn from address-based sampling frames in which online completion is encouraged but a telephone or mail completion option is also available. Because there is no sample frame from which to draw a random sample of e-mail addresses from the general population, however, most internet surveys use nonprobability designs, such as those in which respondents are recruited through website banner advertisements. Other nonprobability online surveys use samples from opt-in online panels, in which individuals agree to answer multiple surveys in exchange for money or other incentives. Here again, there is wide variation in design and quality. Online panel vendors differ as to whether and how they attempt to make a sample appear representative of a broader population, by using quotas, matching, and/or post-stratification weighting. They also vary in terms of their workload expectations, incentive structures, and panel management. In sum, the considerable heterogeneity in online surveys is too often overlooked. Given the discipline’s overall embrace of the method, making sense of this heterogeneity is essential to understanding how best to design and analyze online surveys and, ultimately, evaluate knowledge claims being made with the resulting data. Fortunately, research on online surveys constitutes a large and growing segment of the survey methodology literature. The purpose of this bibliography is to provide a resource for understanding the variation in methods and quality of online data collection, the relative advantages and disadvantages of using online surveys, and best practices for designing and analyzing online surveys.
It did not take long for the survey industry to catch up as more and more people went online toward the end of the 20th century—surveys were being conducted via e-mail as early as the 1980s (Callegaro, et al. 2015). Today, online surveys make up a significant portion of academic, business, and government survey work (Schaeffer and Dykema 2011). Although disparities in Internet access were initially viewed as a key challenge to online surveys, Internet use in the United States (and around the world) has risen steadily since the turn of the century, with nearly 90 percent of Americans having access to the Internet in 2018. With the growth in the adoption of Internet-enabled mobile devices, even traditionally harder to reach populations, such as minorities, those in rural areas, and older individuals, now have widespread access to the Internet. Nonetheless, there remains considerable debate about online survey methods, fueled by the wide variation in sampling design and implementation approaches. As a result, research on online surveys has occupied an increasingly large place in the survey methodology literature over the past two decades. This section identifies seminal texts on survey methodology that provide the necessary foundation for evaluating online surveys, as well as comprehensive reviews of the online survey research. General overviews and edited volumes—including Groves, et al. 2009; Krosnick, et al. 2015; and Wolf, et al. 2017—provide a history of survey research and guidance on the design, implementation, and evaluation of online surveys. Others focus specifically on evaluating data quality through the perspective of the total survey error approach, examining the multiple sources through which error can be introduced during the survey process (Biemer and Lyberg 2003, Weisberg 2009, Groves and Lyberg 2010). Couper 2000 and Tourangeau, et al. 2013 cover a wide range of topics specific to online surveys, including design strategies, implementation approaches, and differences between various types of online surveys.
Biemer, Paul P., and Lars E. Lyberg. Introduction to Survey Quality. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley, 2003.
A classic text that introduces principles and concepts of relevance to evaluating data quality. Biemer and Lyberg focus on methods used for evaluating survey error and improving survey quality.
Callegaro, Mario, Katja Lozar Manfreda, and Vasja Vehovar. Web Survey Methodology. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2015.
This textbook provides practical guidance on techniques for designing and implementing online surveys, as well as an overview of recent research on modern advances in online survey research, such as the use of mobile technologies and mixed-mode designs.
Couper, Mick P. “Web Surveys: A Review of Issues and Approaches.” Public Opinion Quarterly 64.4 (2000): 464–494.
In this seminal article, Couper provides a typology of Internet surveys at the outset of the ascent of online surveys, establishing language used to distinguish between the various components and categories of online surveys.
Groves, Robert M., Floyd J. Fowler Jr., Mick P. Couper, James M. Lepkowski, Eleanor Singer, and Roger Tourangeau. Survey Methodology. 2d ed. Wiley Series in Survey Methodology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley, 2009.
This seminal text, now in its second edition, covers all aspects of the survey life cycle, from sample design, various sources of measurement and sampling error, nonresponse, design strategies, and analysis of survey data.
Groves, Robert M., and Lars Lyberg. “Total Survey Error: Past, Present, and Future.” Public Opinion Quarterly 74.5 (2010): 849–879.
Groves and Lyberg present a history and useful overview of the total survey error approach, emphasizing its many strengths and identifying opportunities for improvements based on its limitations.
Krosnick, Jon A., Stanley Presser, Kaye Husbands Fealing, Steven Ruggles, and David Vannette. The Future of Survey Research: Challenges and Opportunities; A Report to the National Science Foundation Based on Two Conferences Held on October 3–4 and November 8–9, 2012. Alexandria, VA: National Science Foundation Advisory Committee for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Subcommittee on Advancing SBE Survey Research, 2015.
This National Science Foundation report provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges facing survey-based data collection, current best practices, and opportunities for future innovations.
Schaeffer, Nora Cate, and Jennifer Dykema. “Questions for Surveys: Current Trends and Future Directions.” Public Opinion Quarterly 75.5 (2011): 909–961.
The authors outline trends and themes in the survey methodology literature published in Public Opinion Quarterly from 2000 to 2010, with considerable focus on the rise and evolution of online surveys.
Tourangeau, Roger, Frederick G. Conrad, and Mick P. Couper. The Science of Web Surveys. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
A comprehensive resource for the development and evaluation of online surveys, including a review of sampling methods and measurement strategies. This text also describes statistical techniques aimed at reducing selection and coverage biases.
Weisberg, Herbert F. The Total Survey Error Approach: A Guide to the New Science of Survey Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Weisberg presents an early overview of the total survey error perspective, the dominant paradigm in the field of survey methodology used to evaluate and improve surveys. This unified approach recognizes the many different sources of survey errors, including sampling, coverage, measurement, nonresponse, and post-estimation.
Wolf, Christof, Dominique Joye, Tom W. Smith, and Yand-chih Fu, eds. The Sage Handbook of Survey Methodology. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2017.
This edited volume covers all aspects of survey research, with chapters on topics of special importance of online surveys, including nonprobability sampling, questionnaire design, mixed-mode surveys, and record linkage.
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- Advanced Democracies, Electoral System Reform in
- Advanced Democracies, Public Opinion and Public Policy in
- Advertising and Election Campaigns in the United States
- Africa, Comparative Politics of
- African Development, Politics of
- American Indian Politics
- Arab-Israel Conflict, The
- Arendt, Hannah
- Aristotle's Political Thought
- Arms Race Modeling
- Australia and New Zealand, Comparative Politics of
- Authoritarianism in Russia
- Authoritarianism in the Public
- Authoritarianism in Turkey
- Bicameralism in Stable Democracies
- Big Data in Political Science Research
- Biopolitics and State Regulation of Human Life
- Brazilian Political Development
- Business-State Relations in Europe
- Campaign Finance in the Era of Super-PACS
- Canadian Foreign Policy
- Candidate Emergence and Recruitment
- Channels of Electoral Representation in Advanced Industria...
- China's One-Child Policy
- China-Taiwan Relations
- Chinese Communist Party
- Chinese Economic Policy
- Chinese Nationalism
- Civil Society in South Asia
- Civil War in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Civil-Military Relations in Asia
- Civil-Military Relations in Latin America
- Class in American Politics
- Climate Change and Politics
- Comparative Capitalism Theory
- Comparative Industrial Relations in Europe
- Comparative Politics of Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bis...
- Comparative Politics of Chile and Uruguay
- Comparative Politics of Federalism
- Comparative Politics of the Middle East and North Africa
- Congress, Defense, and Foreign Policy
- Congressional Reassertion of Authority
- Conservative Litigation Strategies and Groups in US Judici...
- Corruption in China
- Cosmopolitan Political Thought
- Crisis of European Integration in Historical Perspective, ...
- Critical Elections, Partisan Realignment, and Long-Term El...
- Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School
- Cuban Political Development
- Cycles of Protest
- Democracy and Authoritarianism in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Democracy and Dictatorship in Central Asia
- Democracy in Latin America
- Democratic Citizenship
- Democratic Consolidation
- Democratic Peace Theory
- Democratic Theory
- Democratization in Africa
- Democratization in Central America
- Democratization in Mexico
- Development of Survey Research
- Direct Democracy in the United States
- East Africa, Politics of
- Economic Voting
- Election Forecasting
- Election Laws in Democracies
- Electoral and Party System Development in Sub-Saharan Afri...
- Electoral Change in Latin America
- Electoral Reform and Voting in the United States
- Emotion and Racial Attitudes in Contemporary American Poli...
- Environmental Governance
- Environmental Politics among Advanced Industrial Democraci...
- Ethnic Diasporas and US Foreign Policy
- Ethnic Politics
- Eurasia, Comparative Politics of
- European Social Democracy
- European Union, Politics of the
- Failed and Weak States in Theory and Practice
- Far-Right Parties in Europe
- Federalism in the United States
- Feminist Political Thought
- Field Experiments
- Filibuster, The
- Gender and Electoral Politics in the United States
- Gender and International Relations
- Gender, Behavior, and Representation
- Global Inequality
- Globalization and the Welfare State
- Globalization, Health Crises, and Health Care
- Governance in Africa
- Governmental Responses to Political Corruption
- Gridlock and Divided Government in the U.S.
- Historiography of Twentieth-Century American Conservatism,...
- Hobbes’s Political Thought
- Hume's Political Thought
- Hybrid Regimes
- Identity and Political Behavior
- Ideological Reasoning in Politics
- Immigrant Incorporation in Canada
- Immigrant Incorporation in Western Europe
- Immigration and International Relations
- Immigration Politics and Policy in the United States
- Impact of Campaign Contributions on Congressional Behavior...
- Implicit Attitudes in Public Opinion
- Income Dynamics and Politics in North America and Europe
- Income Inequality and Advanced Democracies
- Income Inequality in the United States, The Politics of
- Indian Democracy
- Indigenous Rights and Governance in Canada, Australia, and...
- Informal Practices of Accountability in Urban Africa
- Institutional Change in Advanced Democracies
- Intellectual Property in International Relations
- Interest Groups and Inequality in the United States
- Interest Groups in American Politics
- Interethnic Contact and Impact on Attitudes
- International Conflict Management
- International Criminal Justice
- International Law
- International NGOs
- International Political Economy of Illegal Drugs
- Internet and Politics, The
- Iran, Political Development of
- Israeli Politics
- Judicial Supremacy and National Judicial Review
- Judiciaries and Politics in East Asia
- Kant's Political Thought
- Labor Politics in East Asia
- Land Reform in Latin America
- Latin America, Democratic Transitions in
- Latin America, Environmental Policy and Politics in
- Latin America, Guerrilla Insurgencies in
- Latin America, Social Movements in
- Legal Mobilization
- LGBT Politics in the United States
- Liberal Pluralism
- Local Governments in the United States
- Machiavelli’s Political Thought
- Marx's Political Thought
- Mass Incarceration and US Politics
- Mechanisms of Representation
- Media Effects in Politics
- Media Politics in South Asia
- Mexican Political Development
- Minority Political Engagement and Representation in the Un...
- Modern Dynastic Rule
- Modern Elections and Voting Behavior in Europe
- Motivated Reasoning
- National Interbranch Politics in the United States
- NATO, Politics of
- Negative Campaigning
- Neoclassical Realism
- New Institutionalism Revisited, The
- North America, Comparative Politics of
- Oil, Politics of
- Online Public Opinion Polling
- Origins and Impact of Proportional Representation, The
- Outcomes of Social Movements and Protest Activities
- Partisan and Nonpartisan Theories of Organization in the U...
- Partisan Polarization in the US Congress
- Partisan Polarization in the US Electorate
- Party Networks
- Party System Institutionalization in Democracies
- Peace Operations
- Personality and Politics
- Plato's Political Thought
- Policy Feedback
- Policy Responsiveness to Public Opinion
- Political Ambition
- Political Economy of Financial Regulation in Advanced Ind...
- Political Economy of India
- Political Economy of Taxation, The
- Political Geography in American Politics
- Political Obligation
- Political Parties and Electoral Politics of Japan
- Political Thought, Hegel's
- Political Thought of the American Founders, The
- Politics and Policy in Contemporary Argentina
- Politics of Anti-Americanism
- Politics of Class Formation
- Politics of Disaster Prevention and Management
- Politics of Financial Crises
- Politics of Foreign Direct Investment in South Asia
- Politics of Higher Education in the U.S.
- Politics of Internal Conquest in the United States and Can...
- Politics of Japan
- Politics of Natural Disasters, The
- Politics of North Korea
- Politics of Science and Technology
- Politics of South Africa
- Politics of Southern Africa
- Politics of the American South
- Politics of the US-Mexico Border
- Postcolonialism and International Relations
- Post-Communist Democratization
- Preferential Trade Agreements, Politics of
- Presidential Persuasion and Public Opinion
- Presidential Primaries and Caucuses
- Private Governance
- Public Opinion in Advanced Industrial Democracies
- Public Opinion in New Democracies and Developing Nations
- Public Presidency, US Elections, and the Permanent Campaig...
- Qualitative Methods, The Renewal of
- Race in American Political Thought
- Racial and Ethnic Descriptive Representation in the United...
- Regime Transitions and Variation in Post-Communist Europe
- Regional Integration in Latin America
- Regional Security
- Regulating Food Production
- Religion in American Political Thought
- Religion in Contemporary Political Thought
- Religion, Politics, and Civic Engagement in the United Sta...
- Rousseau's Political Thought
- Rule of Law
- Russia and the West
- Science and Democracy
- Science and Social Movements
- Social Policy and Immigrant Integration
- South Korea, Politics of
- Spectacle, The
- State Building in Sub-Saharan Africa
- State Formation
- State, The Nature of the
- Supreme Court and Public Opinion
- Supreme Court of the United States, The
- Systemic Theories of International Politics
- Taiwan, Politics of
- Tea Party, The
- Thailand, Politics of
- The New Right in American Political Thought
- Third-Party Politics in the United States
- Tocqueville’s Political Thought
- Transitional Justice
- Transnational Private Regulation
- Turkey, Political Development of
- US Military Bases Abroad
- US Presidency, The
- US Presidential Campaigns and Their Impact
- Voter Turnout
- Voter Turnout Field Experiments
- Welfare State Development
- Welfare State Development in Latin America
- Welfare State Development in Western Europe
- West Africa, Politics of
- Worker Politics in China
- Youth and Generational Differences in US Politics