Online research describes empirical social research , market and media research with the help of or via online media, primarily with the Internet . The internet serves as an object, a medium and a method.
This subject was created in Germany around 1995 and its content has not yet been strictly delimited. The area has become very differentiated in recent years.
Online data collection is a core area of online research. Examples of this are online surveys , online group interviews or log file analyzes . In online panels , a group of people is interviewed on the same topics over a longer period of time. The method of online data collection is increasingly replacing other traditional forms of data collection, such as B. face-to-face interviews and telephone surveys.
The online research also includes website evaluations and usability studies. Here the internet is not only a medium for collecting data, but the internet offer itself is the focus of the investigation. Usability studies in particular are often not carried out online at all, but in the form of individual explorations using the technique of thinking aloud. Various eye recording methods are also used here.
One field of application is online market research. Just like commercial online market research, online science-related research uses the Internet (or other online media) for the purpose of data collection and as a replacement for traditional data collection methods. In addition, the research also focuses on the social implications of increasing digitization. A distinction must be made here between micro-sociological topics such as B. research into social networks , and macro-sociological issues such as the digital divide in society.
|country||Share of internet users|
Online market research emerged from the growing medium of the Internet and the associated outsourcing of market research to the Internet.
More and more people around the world have a computer that is connected to the Internet, which means that the number of Internet users is increasing every year. In 2009, the Internet was used by 77 % of the population in Germany and 72% in Austria . The Internet has long since become one of the most important instruments for market research. This is reflected in the fact that online market research is one of the most important areas of market research. The reasons for the increasing shift of market research towards the Internet are diverse:
- Both the number of computers connected to the Internet and the number of Internet users are increasing every year.
- The internet is used for online market research for both primary and secondary research . In primary research it is used as a data collection tool and in secondary research to obtain information.
- In contrast to conventional research methods, information can usually be collected more quickly and more cheaply on the Internet.
- The internet opens up new ways and instruments in market research.
Due to its enormous information density for relevant data, the Internet has taken on great importance for market research and it is no longer possible to imagine market research without it.
The most significant advantage of online research or surveys carried out on the Internet is probably the wide accessibility and thus the chance of large, heterogeneous samples. In contrast to conventional paper-based surveys, the costs are very low.
Large and heterogeneous samples can only be achieved theoretically, especially in science-related online research. The structure of the Internet makes it difficult to publish a link to the survey. The ephemeral nature of a survey means that indexing a study on search engines is often ineffective. If the link is published in topic-related portals, no non-subject test participants are usually reached. In all other forums, portals, communities, etc., references to surveys are considered spam and are met with criticism.
In addition, scientific institutions have the problem that commercial advertising for research purposes is met with skepticism. The scientific character of a survey that entices with competitions or the like is therefore questioned. In addition, such actions require personal contact data for the participants, which in turn contradicts the anonymity of the participants.
Another problem with online scientific research is that a survey - unlike a paper-based form - has to be created by a technician. Communication problems between researchers and technicians can cause difficulties in creating the surveys, such as B. for statistical programs incompatible data or similar. arise.
- General Online Research
- Practical instructions for creating online studies (PDF file; 766 kB)
- Introduction to the methodology of online examinations (PDF file; 118 kB)
- Science 11 August 2006: Vol. 313. no. 5788, pp. 769-771