Explore the Viability of the Internet as a Survey Tool: A Comparative Study on the Practical Significance of Sample Differences


Jack C. C. Li


sampling, equivalence test, Internet-based survey, Internet, t-test


In this study, we conducted a telephone survey and a paralleling Inter- net-based one, using the same questionnaire. To examine how different the Internet survey sample was from the telephone survey, we implemented two statistical methods (t-test and equivalence test) simultaneously to analyze and compare the two samples. The findings indicate that the demographic con- figurations were different across the two sampling modes. We also found that the two samples were different for most variables concerning Internet use and media use patterns. However, the differences were in most cases only statistically significant. As far as practical significance was concerned, the samples of the two surveys did not differ that much. Implications of the findings were discussed. We suggest that Internet as a survey tool has some advantages, and Internet-based survey could be complementary to traditional survey methods in the study on Internet users.