The Context of Innovations

As opposed to the conventional methods, which consist mainly of interviews – direct and telephonic – and postal questionnaires (Dilman and Bowker 2001), technological developments, especially in the field of internet, have made it possible for researchers to conduct a survey through the web. The option to conduct a survey through the internet, or the web, have democratized this very mode of conducting research since people with web sites and access to survey software, available at affordable costs, can always conduct a survey on the topic of their choice (Couper 2000. Couper 2001). Its technologically-enhanced nature enables people with relevant backgrounds in technology to assume a significant role in its functioning rather than survey methodology professionals and scholars ruling the field all alone (Shannon et al 2002).
Nevertheless, these new spaces opened by technological advancements in the sphere of survey research do not exempt it from some major challenges that have accompanied these changes. This paper is a brief attempt to discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of different forms of conducting surveys, especially electronic and non-electronic (conventional) ones. While doing so it shall focus on issues that pertain to not only the different modes, methods and approaches adopted in each of these forms but also on the different contexts of their application. For instance, cultural aspects, technological literacy and access to latest technologies are some of the crucial factors determining the success and failures of online surveys in different geopolitical contexts that are different from their western counterparts. The paper attempts to discuss these issues in three sections including this introduction. In the next section, I shall discuss the relative advantages and limits of each of these modes of conducting survey. While the focus mainly remains on the western context& attempt is also made to bring out the contextual significances in this regard on the basis of experiences reported from different parts. The third section concludes the paper.

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