You are here

Conducting Online Surveys

Conducting Online Surveys

Second Edition

Other Titles in:
Research Design | Survey Research

November 2011 | 264 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
This book addresses the needs of researchers who want to conduct surveys online. Issues discussed include sampling from online populations, developing online and mobile questionnaires, and administering electronic surveys, are unique to digital surveys. Others, like creating reliable and valid survey questions, data analysis strategies, and writing the survey report, are common to all survey environments. This single resource captures the particulars of conducting digital surveys from start to finish.
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Planning the Digital Survey
Chapter 3. Sampling
Chapter 4. Writing Survey Questions
Chapter 5. Designing and Developing the Survey Instrument
Chapter 6. Conducting the Survey
Chapter 7. Processing and Analyzing the Survey Data
Chapter 8. Reporting the Survey Results
Chapter 9. Concluding Comments
Appendix A: American Association for Public Opinion Research, Code of Ethics
Appendix B: Commonly Used Survey Questions

This is a perfect textbook

Dr Ann Laenen
Digital arts: faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences, University of Malta
March 18, 2019

A helpful text covering a form of data collection increasingly used by students. There is an appropriate balance between material applying to all surveys and considerations that are specific to online forms of data collection. Some of the material which makes reference to market research provides a helpful change of perspective.

Jamie Harding
Social Sciences, Northumbria University
July 17, 2015

This is a very accessible text for anyone thinking of administering surveys online. The information is presented clearly and I have already recommended it to many of my students.

Professor Alison Kington
Institute of Education, Worcester University
May 15, 2015

This is a very practical book which offers sound advice about the pros and cons of conducting online surveys. It is well written and useful for early career researchers and students.

Mrs Yvette Winnard
Allied Health and Medicine, Anglia Ruskin University
November 10, 2013

This book is practical, succinct, and provides clear instructions for developing student researchers.

Dr Joel Filmore
Counseling and Psychology, Northern State University
October 31, 2013

This is a very useful book for students who are learning both how to construct survey items and online survey instruments.

Dr Maria Pampaka
Social Science , University of Manchester
June 28, 2013

Online surveys is gaining popularity among students and practitioners and I recommend this book to all students who use online surveys.

Mr Tjeerd Zandberg
ETFI, Stenden University of Applied Sciences
March 22, 2013

I find the book highly simplified and addresses critical issues on conducting online surveys.

Dr Joshua Ndiege
Information Systems & Computing, University of Eastern Africa, Baraton
February 27, 2013

This book will help my students develop better on-line questionnaires, which is now becoming the norm in undergraduate research it would appear.

Dr Denis Feather
Dept. of Strategy and Marketing, Huddersfield University
February 20, 2013

This is a great book - really well written and has great content that our students will use. We are recommending this to any students who are thinking of conducting online surveys for their research projects.

Dr Stephanie Bennett
Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, Portsmouth University
January 29, 2013
Key features

New to the Second Edition

  • Outlines the three common options for digital surveys—e-mail surveys, website surveys, and mobile surveys—thoroughly updating the content of Chapter 2 on Planning the Online Survey
  • Expands discussion of choosing software, including a focus on data security and coverage of anti-spam compliance
  • Extends discussion of many topics such as closed-ended survey questions, survey scales, questionnaire matrices, and best practices for reporting results
  • Includes end-of-chapter exercises, which help students apply the chapter content and can be used for classroom discussion


In the five years since the publication of the first edition of Conducting Online Surveys, the field of online survey research has changed significantly. A multitude of low-cost software options has opened the area to a broad range of researchers and the need of a comprehensive text aimed at guiding the development, implementation, and reporting of digital surveys is greater than ever. To keep pace with the development of technology and the methodological literature surrounding survey research, we have made significant additions and changes to this second edition.

First, readers will notice a slight change in the language we use to describe the surveys under consideration. In the previous edition of this text we used the term "online surveys" to discuss electronic surveys delivered to potential respondents by e-mail or on a website. We continue to use the term "online" in this edition, but also use the synonyms, "electronic" and "digital" to be inclusive of surveys delivered to mobile phones, tablet computers such as iPads, and public kiosks.

The foundational material in chapter 1 is largely unchanged. We retained our discussion of the common characteristics shared by all survey projects and explanation of the steps involved in creating a survey.

We updated chapter 2 substantially. The selection of digital surveys from which to choose now centers on three options: e-mail surveys, website surveys, and mobile surveys. In the first edition, we discussed sending questionnaires in the body of an e-mail message or as an e-mail attachment. That option is obviously still available; however, the advent of free and easy-to-use survey software has rendered it an unappealing choice for most purposes. We have, therefore, eliminated that material and now refer to e-mail surveys as those that are accessed from a link in an e-mail invitation.

A successful digital survey project is highly dependent on choosing suitable software; we have therefore, expanded our discussion of factors one should consider when purchasing software and signing up for a Web survey host. Information about data security and a list of security-related questions to ask when evaluating software vendors will be especially useful for researchers who wish to collect sensitive or confidential data from respondents. Additionally, market researchers will appreciate the new material concerning anti-spam compliance at the end of chapter 2.

Chapter 3 remains focused on sampling techniques for online surveys. We have increased our coverage of pre-recruited panels with expanded information about the benefits and limitations of building online panels.

In chapter 4 you will find expanded treatment of closed-ended survey questions. We have added greater depth to the discussion of survey scales, covering topics like: number of points to include on scales, the positioning of scale labels and more. To assist beginning researchers, we have also included a list of commonly used survey scales. We retained the section on demographic questions and added a library (Appendix B) of frequently used survey questions that includes demographic and other items.

The examples throughout chapter 5 have been refreshed and we have updated and expanded the discussion of questionnaire matrices. Our goal was to provide ample illustrations of how digital survey questions may be presented so that survey creators can make informed decisions when designing their questionnaires.

Chapter 6 has been overhauled. Coverage of survey deployment methods was enhanced by including information about the use of mobile phones and social media websites. Readers will also find greater detail surrounding best practices for writing e-mail invitations, a new discussion of message deliverability, and more on techniques to increase survey response rate.

Information pertaining to manual tracking and coding of e-mail survey responses has been eliminated from Chapter 7. In its place we have inserted the review of basic summary statistics, formerly contained in an appendix. This material is intended to aid researchers who are in need of a brief refresher as they are review survey reports produced by digital survey hosts.

Chapter 8 contains detailed information about survey data reporting. In addition to the description of academic research reports you will find new material about dashboard reports and expanded coverage of best practices for creating PowerPoint side shows and delivering presentations in-person and in virtual settings.

Finally, instructors using this text will notice the addition of class exercises accompanying each chapter. We hope that the expanded and updated information included in this edition has improved the text and that online survey researchers will find it to be a useful resource.

Valerie M. Sue

Valerie M. Sue is a senior manager at Kaiser Permanente (KP). She manages a range of projects for KP’s Market Strategy and Sales Operations Department and provides data visualization consultation to KP executives and staff. Prior to joining KP, Sue was an associate professor of communication at California State University, East Bay. At CSU, East Bay she taught communication theory, research methods, survey research, statistics, and was the director of the Communication Department’s graduate program. She has authored numerous journal articles, book chapters, and an online survey methods text. Sue earned a PhD in Communication from Stanford... More About Author

Lois A. Ritter

Lois A. Ritter is an assistant professor in the Nursing and Health Sciences Department at California State University, East Bay and a consultant in public health and education. She teaches courses in community health and research methods and has extensive experience in program planning and evaluation. She earned a doctorate in education from the University of San Francisco, and three masters degrees in health science, anthropology, and health care administration. Her research interests are in health information technology and community and multicultural health. More About Author

Purchasing options

Please select a format:

ISBN: 9781412992251

SAGE Research Methods is a research methods tool created to help researchers, faculty and students with their research projects. SAGE Research Methods links over 175,000 pages of SAGE’s renowned book, journal and reference content with truly advanced search and discovery tools. Researchers can explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings. Since SAGE Research Methods focuses on methodology rather than disciplines, it can be used across the social sciences, health sciences, and more.