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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter describes the rise of online surveys as a research tool for social scientists. First it provides an analytical framework for understanding how survey mode matters to social science research. It examines the consequences of the trade-off between quality and cost for an entire research program or literature. For survey methodologists, quality boils down to the ability to test a hypothesis using the survey. Second, the chapter examines the controversy over the use of opt-in Internet polls rather than traditional polls. Recent studies have found that high-quality online surveys produce estimates that can be as reliable as those from traditional polls. Using data from over 300 state-level opt-in Internet subsamples from the CCES, the chapter measures the amount of error in a commonly used approach for conducting opt-in Internet surveys and compares it to traditional probability samples. It concludes by considering how to make wiser choices about survey mode.

Keywords: online surveys, survey mode, survey methodology, survey innovation, survey quality

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