Course 5 - Web Surveys

August 13-24, 2012

Instructors: Week 1 - Katja Lozar Manfreda, Nejc Berzelak; Week 2 - Mick Couper, Nejc Berzelak

Course content

The course deals with the challenge of using the World Wide Web for survey data collection. Although Web surveys are sometimes perceived as a questionable survey mode, the experiences over the 15 years of their usage show that they can be used in a valid and reliable way for many research purposes. The instructors will provide participants with the basic principles of implementing Web surveys in order to collect survey data of adequate quality.

In the introduction, participants will be presented with the history of computer-assisted survey data collection and its varieties, the typology of Web surveys as one of the recently developed computer-assisted modes, and the advantages and disadvantages of Web surveys in the context of their usage. Then, principles of implementing Web surveys will be presented through the steps of the internet survey process. Problems of coverage and sampling, nonresponse, and measurement issues will be addressed accordingly. Special attention will be given to aspects of instrument design for Web surveys, drawing on empirical results from experiments and practical experience.

Students will also be introduced to the variety of survey packages for implementing Web surveys and have the opportunity to conduct their own survey project using one of these packages. The course will conclude by addressing ethical issues in conducting surveys on the Web.  

Course and learning objectives

The objective of the course is to provide participants with the practical knowledge and tools to conduct Web surveys  and to provide them with an understanding of possible deficiencies and mistakes (problems of noncoverage and sampling, nonresponse, measurement error). After the course participants should be able to conduct their own Web survey projects.

Course prerequisites

Basics of survey methodology are recommended, however not required since basic principles will be presented during the course when needed. Note: Participants need to bring a laptop computer in order to perform the practical exercises in this course.


Please note that for this course, the optional exam will be in form of a paper to be submitted to the instructors after the end of the Summer School. If you want to gain 5 ECTS points for this course, you will thus not need to be present for the classroom exam on August 25th.

Recommended reading

  1. Fricker, R. D. & M. Schonlau (2002). Advantages and Disadvantages of Internet Research Surveys. Evidence from the Literature. Field Methods, 14 (4): 347-365.
  2. Couper, M. P. (2000). Web Surveys. A Review of Issues and Approaches. Public Opinion Quarterly, 64, 4: 464-495.
  3. Vehovar, V. & K. Lozar Manfreda (2008). Internet Surveys. Pp. 264-284 in E. D. de Leeuw, J. J. Hox & D. A. Dillman (Eds.). International Handbook of Survey Methodology. New York et al.
  4. Special issue of Public Opinion Quarterly, 72 (5), published December 2008.
  5. Couper, M. (2008). Designing Effective Web Surveys. Cambridge.
  6. Dillman, D. A. et al. (2009). Internet, Mail, and Mixed-Mode Surveys. The Tailored Design Method. 3rd edition, New York.

About the instructors

Prof. Katja Lozar Manfreda, PhD, is an assistant Professor of Statistics at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana. She has been researching the methodology of Internet surveys since 1998 and has several publications on this topic. She is also part of the team establishing and maintaining, the main web site dedicated to the methodology of web surveys.

Prof. Mick P. Couper, PhD, is a research professor at the Survey Research Center, University of Michigan and the Joint Program in Survey Methodology. He has published extensively on Web survey design and implementation issues, including <em>Designing Effective Web Surveys</em> published by Cambridge University Press (2008). His current research interests focus on aspects of technology use in surveys, whether by interviewers or respondents.