The Growth of Internet Research Methods and the Reluctant Sociologist

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
James C. Petersen, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: Between 1999 and 2004 only one article appeared in the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Sociology, or Social Forces using primary data collected with Web-based research techniques. Since then there have been only a handful of studies published in these core sociology journals drawing on Web-based surveys or other forms of Web-based data. The use of Internet-based data has become widespread in many academic fields, especially health research and education; Web-based techniques are becoming routine in the practice and study of politics; and online commercial and market research has become a billion dollar industry. At the same time, the utility of random digit dialing surveys has eroded considerably owing to declining contact rates, increased use of technologies to screen unwanted telephone calls, and the replacement of landline telephones with cell phones. There is increasing evidence that Internet research can produce representative data. Although Web-based surveys may overrepresent some populations, Internet usage in the general population is now well over 75 per cent and is especially strong among some hard to reach populations. Internet surveys have the potential to reduce measurement error, missing data, and respondent attrition. Sociologists must overcome their fear of participation in stigmatized Internet research and actively engage in the development of techniques and refinements that will increase the utility and validity of Internet-based data collection.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
sociology, sociological research, telephone surveys, internet research, methodology, internet surveys, random digit dialing

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