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Web-based experiments and questionnaires are a crucial method of epidemiology which provides vital information on the condition of public health and disease. They are a popular method of gathering data that is often less costly and time-consuming than face-toface interviews, mail-in questionnaires, or automated telephone menu systems. However questionnaires, surveys and Web experiments have a number of limitations that must be addressed in order to ensure the validity and reliability of results.

A questionnaire may be affected by response bias. This is the tendency for respondents to answer questions based upon their opinions rather than the research objectives. In addition, the design of the questionnaire can influence responses in a variety of ways: for example the language used in the questions can affect whether respondents understand and interpret the question in the same manner (reliable) to determine the subject matter you’re interested in (valid), or are able to answer accurately (credible).

Respondents may also experience fatigue or lack of interest in the questions and reduces the chance of them providing honest responses. A lack of incentives or compensation can also discourage participants from filling out survey forms.

Online questionnaires can be an issue for certain experimental designs such as studies of reaction time or positioning. The variation in settings for browsers as well as screen sizes and operating systems makes it difficult to measure and control the same variables across all participants.

Furthermore, Web-based surveys are only accessible to those who have keyboards and are Internet proficient, which currently excludes a significant percentage of the population. Furthermore, it’s usually difficult for Web researchers to provide feedback to participants after an experiment’s window closes.

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