Volume 38, Issue 4 p. 574-582

Online data collection in academic research: advantages and limitations

Samúel Lefever

Corresponding Author

Samúel Lefever

Iceland University of Education

Samúel Lefever, Iceland University of Education, Stakkahlid, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland. Email: [email protected]Search for more papers by this author
Michael Dal

Michael Dal

Iceland University of Education

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Ásrún Matthíasdóttir

Ásrún Matthíasdóttir

Reykjavík University

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First published: 16 June 2006
Citations: 265

Abstract

Online data collection in academic research might be replacing paper-and-pencil surveys or questionnaires in the near future. This paper discusses the advantages and limitations of online data collection, with particular reference to the conduct of two qualitative studies involving upper secondary school teachers and students in Iceland in 2002. Email was used for contacting the participants to ask them to visit a designated website in order to complete the questionnaire. Some problems arose with the use of an online web-based programme for data collection. Among them were the unreliability of the email address lists and the lack of willingness, particularly among students, to participate. The paper concludes that while online surveys can access large and geographically distributed populations and achieve quick returns, they may no longer be as universally appealing as was once believed. Reaching the population sample remains a problem in online as well as in traditional data collection.