Improving web survey methodology for the social and cultural sciences: some reflections
This presentation will provide an overview of the achievements and further plans of the project “Improving web survey methodology for the social and cultural sciences” which started in September 2008 at the Erasmus Studio. The first part of the presentation will focus on findings with regard to methodological challenges. The increasing popularity of web surveys triggered a heated debate about the quality of web surveys for scientific use. The most obvious disadvantage of web surveys is that they may not be representative because the sub-population with Internet access is quite specific. Therefore, different weighting techniques, like post-stratification and propensity score adjustment (PSA) have been proposed, particularly with regard to non-probability-based web surveys. The main focus within the project was to examine the potentials and constraints of different weighting procedures for a continuous volunteer web survey.
The project also aims to explore the effect of web technologies on the community of sociologists and web survey researchers. Hence, the second part of the presentation will summarize the findings of a literature analysis undertaken to shed light on the discussion whether the technological changes in collecting and analyzing data has led to a crisis in empirical sociology (part of the chapter on ‘Sloppy data floods or precise social science methodologies?’ prepared for the book Virtual Knowledge). Finally, the presentation will briefly describe plans of the newly-created COST Action WEBDATANET.