Notice: the WebSM website has not been updated since the beginning of 2018.

Web Survey Bibliography

Title Using interactive feedback to enhance response quality in Web surveys. The case of open-ended questions
Year 2013
Access date 27.03.2013

Relevance & Research Question: Several studies have demonstrated that respondents react to the size and design of the answer box offered with an open-ended question in web surveys. Larger answer boxes seem to pose an additional burden and yield higher rates of item-nonresponse as compared to smaller answer boxes. At the same time larger answer boxes work as a stimulus that increases the length of the response provided by those respondents who actually answer the question. In this study we aim to demonstrate the effectiveness of a counter associated with the answer box that continuously indicates the number of characters left to type. We assume that the counter allows researcher to limit the size of the answer box in order to reduce item-nonresponse without harming the length of the responses provided.
Methods & Data: The effect of the counter as a means of interactive feedback was tested in a 3x4 between-subjects design. Factor 1 was the size of the answer box and had 3 levels (small, medium, and large). Factor 2 had 4 levels (no counter, counter with a start value of about the number of characters that fit the answer box, counters with a higher or lower initial value). The experiment was embedded in a large scale survey among university applicants (n=6.100).
Results: Findings confirm previous studies according to which smaller boxes pose a lower burden to respondents as compared to middle-sized and large boxes. Accordingly more respondents actually provided an answer to a small answer box. At the same time larger boxes yield longer answers and more characters. Using a counter has no negative effect of item-nonresponse, however, it has the potential to increase the number of characters – particularly together with a medium sized answer box.
Added Value: The study demonstrates the benefits of providing interactive feedback to respondents in Web surveys. In addition, interaction effects between the answer box size and the presence of a counter suggest that the optimal design of an answer box to an open-ended question needs to be carefully chosen.

Access/Direct link

GOR Homepage (abstract) / (presentation)

Year of publication2013
Bibliographic typeConferences, workshops, tutorials, presentations
Full text availabilityAvailable on request

Web survey bibliography (4086)