The internet has continually paved way for new research methods, particularly in the survey domain. The transformative trend in research has been evident following the inception of the World Wide Web (WWW) and its vistas. For instance, there are web surveys, where respondents are provided with hyperlinks to websites containing the questionnaires or survey questions. This is the survey method I utilized during the class mini-study. The survey website, SurveyMonkey made it possible for me to formulate a questionnaire for my study titled, “What Value does Parole Supervision Add?” Just like the primary research question asserts, the study sought to examine people’s opinion on whether parole supervision is beneficial in the process of rehabilitating offenders (SurveyMonkey, 2014). I formulated the research question as a way of exploring validity of parole supervision as a valid rehabilitation measure, especially following increased contention of its applicability. Few respondents answered the questionnaire, making it difficult to conclusively prove or disprove the hypothesis that, parole supervision adds value to offender rehabilitation. Nonetheless, the two respondents indicated that parole supervision is a positive and effective correctional strategy (SurveyMonkey, 2014). This shows that 100% of the willing research participants supported the hypothesis that parole supervision adds value to restoration of offenders to productive societal positions.
Judging from the mini-study, it was apparent that web based surveys have several advantages and disadvantages as discussed further herein. One of the principal advantages of the web based survey is that it allows respondents to fill questionnaires instantaneously without incurrence of transmission costs (Fricker & Schonlau, 2002). This is because, as seen in the study, the individuals simply had to access the SurveyMonkey hyperlink and provide their answers. The other advantage is that the survey questions are standardized. this ensures that there is no interviewer bias, which is not the case in other research methods such as observation. I also realized that the survey method used is advantageous since the web platform makes it possible to generate visual data interpretation aids such as graphs. Consequently, it is relatively easy to analyze research findings. Further, online surveys are ordinarily time saving, since one is able to reach out to many respondents via one platform. In addition, individuals are able to provide their responses at their own time hence convenience. The web-based survey used also allows one to progressively monitor respondents’ answers and analyze them as they stream in (Maxfield & Babbie, 2008).
In regard to disadvantages, the most significant one noted is that, the response rate is poor. This is perhaps attributable to the fact that, potential interviewees do not feel obliged to respond to the questions (Fricker & Schonlau, 2002). Another demerit of a web-survey noted in the mini-study is the failure of respondents to answer all the questions in the structured questionnaire. Failure to respond to some questions further makes it difficult for a researcher to obtain conclusive study results. I also realized that the standardization of questions limits respondents’ answers. This is disadvantageous, especially in a subject like criminal justice, where answers are bound to vary from one respondent to another. For example, while the respondents were quick to agree that parole supervision adds value to rehabilitation, they differed on the level of its efficacy and its importance to individuals and the correctional system in general. This shows that surveys are not the best research tools in the study of criminal justice subjects, since answers are not clear cut (Maxfield & Babbie, 2008).
Fricker, D. & Schonlau, M. (2002). Advantages and Disadvantages of Internet Research Surveys: Evidence from the Literature. Field Methods, 14 (4), 347-367.
Maxfield, M. & Babbie, E. (2008). Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
SurveyMonkey. (2014). What Values does Parole Supervision Add? Retrieved from https://www.surveymonkey.