Appropriate Uses and Considerations for Online Surveying in Human Dimensions Research
Online surveying has gained attention in recent years for its applicability to human dimensions research as an efficient and inexpensive data-collection method; however, online surveying is not a panacea. In this article, we provide some guidelines for alleviating or avoiding the criticisms and pitfalls suggested of online survey methods and explore two case studies demonstrating different approaches to online surveying. The first was a mixed-mode study of visitors to 52 participating National Wildlife Refuges. The response rate was 72%, with over half of respondents completing the survey online, resulting in cost-savings and efficiencies that would not have otherwise been realized. The second highlighted an online-only approach targeting specialized users of satellite imagery. Through branching and skipping, the online mode allowed flexibilities in administration impractical in a mail survey. The response rate of 53% was higher than typical for online surveys. Both case studies provide examples of appropriate uses of online surveying.