How Online Experiments Can Help Your Research Process

By Grace Hamburger on Dec 11, 2019
eContent Pro
How Online Experiments Can Help Your Research Process

When you picture an experiment, you might conjure up images of test tubes and plasma globes and cackling scientists with unkempt hair. But more often than not, the experiments in academic writing are far less cinematic. Your wild scientist is often a professional researcher, your plasma globes switched out for graphs and charts, and research is primarily collected using polls, questionnaires, or surveys – and yes, sometimes even test tubes.

The rise of the Internet has created an opportunity for researchers to conduct online experiments. Researchers are given an opportunity to bring the experiment right to participants, giving them the freedom to supply their answers from the comfort of their home or on the go. Conducting experiments online also allows the researcher to continue other valuable work, or even have multiple experiments going at the same time. But who hosts these surveys, and how does a researcher recruit their participants?

Hosting a Survey

So, you’ve decided to create a survey online – now what? There is of course the option to run the survey on your own, be it in an email or on your own website. But most researchers opt to find a hosting site or webpage designed to run your survey for you. This ensures your data is collected quickly and accurately, and reaches the most diverse populations possible on a large scale. Qualtrics is a popular choice which offers straightforward survey-creation tools that make the process easy for both researcher and candidate. Gorilla hosts not only polls and surveys, but game-like tests that engage the user in different ways, and offers multiple input methods like keyboard, voice recording, and basic eye-tracking. Hosting sites are designed to record all of the data for you in a neat package, so you can sit back and relax a little bit!

Recruiting Participants

Online surveys are a great way for users to participate whenever and wherever they want. But how do you attract enough users to create a solid database for your research? There are a few free methods that researchers can utilize. Social media is an easy, free way to get the word out to people with whom you are already connected. When a candidate does take your survey, you could ask participants for referrals as an efficient way to get the word out and find more people you may need. Researchers often overlook physical advertising methods, such as posting on bulletin boards or in public spaces, but this can also be an effective recruiting method if utilized the right way.

Some recruiting methods cost a little bit of money, but they take away some of the added stress from tackling it all on your own. Many researchers turn to recruitment services to gather participants. Sites such as SurveyGiizmo, Validately, and UserTesting gather participants who fit varying demographics and compile them so your survey reaches as many people as possible. Anxiety from not having enough numbers to meet your quota is no longer an issue, as these sites are designed to be convenient and efficient. To get the word out, some researchers find online advertising useful as well. Some online advertising is free, like Craigslist and Indeed, but most websites charge a fee that can range depending on how much traffic the hosting site gets.

Conducting experiments online can be an efficient and easy tool to gather valuable data, while saving the researcher and the candidate time and energy. Once your data is collected and you’ve organized it into a figure, table, chart, or equation, let eContent Pro give it the proper treatment. Enhance your designs and make an impact with the publishers!

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