Positioning the advantages of the panel research method
Online panels use pre-recruited research members. Using panels has the advantage of acquiring more depth. After all, a number of questions no longer need to be posed in actual research since this data is already known about the respondents from the intake questionnaires of the online panel. Therefore the actual research can focus even more specifically on the actual research content because many characteristics (e.g. socio-demographic variables or other identification variables) are already known.
Panel research is also interesting in function of the cost benefit relationship, since this way the cost for fieldwork (recruiting respondents and obtaining completed surveys) decreases for every research. The respondents can be used for different types of research. With regard to the procedure of online panels we believe this method is preferable compared to other procedures, such as for example working with surveys through pop-ups. The latter is obviously much cheaper, but some important objections can be made, especially in the area of research methods.
Starting points of an online research panel
Working with an online research panel has the following advantages:
optimising the data collection:
- Online research is a method of collecting data quickly and accurately in a very large group of respondents.
- In addition this method allows you to monitor evolutions. Working with an online panel allows us to contact these people again in the future, which enables a follow-up of the results.
... at low cost...:
- E-mail research is the cheapest research type, amongst others because it allows easy follow-up (reminder mailing), there are no paper and mailing costs nor are there any interview costs and it creates scale advantages for questioning large populations ...
- Costs are always attached to research in order to recruit respondents and have them participate in the research. Involving a specific panel strongly decreases the marginal costs of each research. The relatively high costs for recruiting respondents linked to handling research can therefore be spread over multiple phases.
... with the necessary depth...:
- All recruited respondents receive an intake questionnaire. Apart from a number of socio-demographic variables, this intake questionnaire also contains a number of variables with regard to behaviour and attitude. Based on this we can monitor representativeness.
- Online panel research offers the possibility of posing more valuable personalised questions. Building on for example supplied answers of respondents, we can pose questions that are specific to that target group. This enables more depth and questions specific to that target group.
- By using an online research panel of which we have already acquired a number of data through an intake questionnaire, we only need to ask e.g. socio-demographic variables once. This provides extra time for asking more questions about the subject at hand.
- It provides a fast completion time (maximum 2 weeks for online research), which improves the accuracy of the data.
... respecting the citizen's time...:
- Citizens complete the survey at a time that suits them. The panels are composed of individuals who have given permission to participate in the research. Therefore we do not bother anyone and respect people's privacy.
- We keep questionnaires scientifically relevant and interesting for respondents. We handle various types of questions in our questionnaires so we do not lose the respondents' attention.
- We test the usability of our surveys on a regular basis. This includes user tests, route path analyses and extensive analyses of response rates.
... and all this maintaining representativeness and a scientific nature
- increase the representativeness of the research by performing a weighting of the data after every research where the realised response is compared to that of the target group.
- performing very specific research in specific target groups based on the criteria in the intake questionnaire.
- realising a broad geographical reach: online surveys have no geographical or practical limits as experienced in face-to-face research.
In order to guarantee the scientific nature we use some of the following methods in our research:
- Randomising answer categories when phrasing questions. After all, based on research we know that with some types of questions respondents have a tendency to read the first answers or statements more attentively than the next ones.
- This leads to results with a distorted division.We handle this firstly by trying to the break up lengthy questions into several separate questions and secondly by randomising the order of appearance of statements or answer categories both online and on the telephone.
- The proposed methods allow for a ‘real time' data collection with regard to the degree of redemption and the extent of quota-completion which allows us to adjust the sample in order to receive the necessary response from all intended sub-target groups. Any unbalanced representation can be adjusted during the data collection process.
- A clear view on who completes the questionnaire because it concerns clearly identifiable panel members every time. That way you have a view of the response as well as the non-response. This allows us to screen the non-response to check if any systematic distortion occurred. If so, this could lead to adjustment of the research (e.g. a non-response research).