Sample composition in online studies #ESRA15 #MRX 


Live blogged at #ESRA15 in Reykjavik. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.

I’ve been pulling out every ounce of bravery I have here in Iceland and I went to the pool again last night (see prevoius posts on public nakedness!). I could have also broken my rule about not traveling after dark in strange cities but since it never gets dark here, I didn’t have to worry about that! The pool was much busier this time. I guess kiddies are more likely to be out and about after dinner on a weekday rather than sunday morning at 9am.  All it meant is that I had a lot more people watching to do. All in all good fun to see little babies and toddlers enjoying a good splash and float!

This morning, the sun was very much up and the clouds very much gone. I’ll be dreaming of breaktime all morning! Until then however, i’ve got five sessions on sample composition in online surveys, and representativeness of online studies to pay attention to. It’s going to be tough but a morning chock full of learning will get me a reward of more pool time!  what is the gain in a probability based online panel to provide internet access to sampling unites that did not have access before

  • germany has GIP, france has ELPSS, netherlands has LISS as probability panels
  • weighting might not be enough to account for bias of people who do not have internet access
  • but representativeness is still a problem because people may not want to participate even if they are given access, recruitment rates are much lower among non-interenet households
  • probaility panels still have problems, you won’t answer every survey you are sent, attrition
  • do we lose much without a representative panel? is it worth the extra cost
  • in Elipss panel, everyone is provided a tablet, not just people without access. the 3G tablet is the incentive you get to keep as long as you are on the panel. so everyone uses the same device to participate in the research
  • what does it mean to not have Internet access – used to be computer + modem. Now there are internet cafes, free wifi is everywhere. hard to define someone as no internet access now. We mean access to complete a survey so tiny smartphones don’t count.
  • 14.5% of adults in france were classified as not having internet. turned out to be 76 people in the end which is a bit small for analytics purposes. But 31 of them still connected every day.
  • non-internet access people always participated less than people who did have internet.
  • people without internet always differ on demographics [proof is chi-square, can’t see data]
  • populations are closer on nationality, being in a relationship, and education – including non-internet helps with these variables, improves representativity
  • access does not equal usage does not equal using it to answer surveys
  • maybe consider a probability based panel without providing access to people who don’t have computer/tablet/home access

parallel phone and web-based interviews: comparability and validity

  • phones are relied on for research and assumed to be good enough for representativeness, however most people don’t answer phone calls when they don’t recognize the number, cant use autodialler in the USA for research
  • online surveys can generate better quality due to programming validation and ability to only be able to choose allowable answers
  • phone and online have differences in presentation mode, presence of human interviewer, can read and reread responses if you wish, social desirability and self-presentation issues – why should online and offline be the same
  • caution about combining data from different modes should be exercised [actually, i would want to combine everything i possibly can. more people contributing in more modes seems to be more representative than excluding people because they aren’t identical]
  • how different is online nonprobability from telephone probability  [and for me, a true probability panel cannot technically exist. its theoretically possible but practically impossible]
  • harris did many years of these studies side by side using very specific methodologies
  • measured variety of topics – opinions of nurses, bug business trust, happiness with health, ratings of president
  • across all questions, average correlation between methods was .92 for unweighted means and .893 for weighted means – more bias with weighted version
  • is it better for scales with many response categories – corrections go up to .95
  • online means of attitudinal items were on average 0.05 lower on scale from 0 to 1. online was systematically biased lower
  • correlations in many areas were consistently extremey high, means were consistently very slightly lower for online data; also nearly identical rank order of items
  • for political polling, the two methods were again massively similar, highly comparable results; mean values were generally very slightly lower – thought to be ability to see the scale online as well as social desirability in telephone method, positivity bias especially for items that are good/bad as opposed to importance 
  • [wow, given this is a study over ten years of results, it really calls into question whether probability samples are worth the time and effort]
  • [audience member said most differences were due to the presence of the interviewer and nothing to do with the mode, the online version was foudn to be truer]

representative web survey

  • only a sample without bias can generalize, the correct answer should be just as often a little bit higher or a little bit lower than reality
  • in their sample, they underreprested 18-34, elementary school education, lowest and highest income people
  • [yes, there are demographic differences in panels compared to census and that is dependent completely on your recruitment method. the issue is how you deal with those differences]
  • online panel showed a socially positive picture of population
  • can you correct bias through targeted sampling and weighting, ethnicity and employment are still biased but income is better [that’s why invites based on returns not outgo are better]
  • need to select on more than gender, age, and region
  • [i love how some speakers still have non-english sections in their presentation – parts they forgot to translate or that weren’t translatable. now THIS is learning from peers around the world!]

measuring subjective wellbeing: does the use of websurveys bias the results? evidence from the 2013 GEM data from luxembourg

  • almost everyone is completely reachable by internet
  • web surveys are cool – convenient for respondents, less social desirability bias, can use multimedia, less expensive, less coding errors; but there are sampling issues and bias from the mode
  • measures of subjective well being – i am satisfied with my life, i have obtained all the important things i want in my life, the condition of my life are excellent, my life is close to my ideal [all positive keyed]
  • online survey gave very slightly lower satisfaction
  • the results is robuts to three econometric techqnies
  • results from happiness equations using differing modes are compatible
  • web surveys are reliable for collecting information on wellbeing
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