Web Survey Bibliography

Title PageFocus: A new JavaScript to detect cheating in online tests
Year 2014
Access date 03.08.2016
The validity of unproctored tests is threatened by participants who decide to cheat when stakes are high. To address this problem, we developed PageFocus, a JavaScript allowing to determine whether participants abandon a test page to pursue other activities such as looking up the solution to a test item in a second browser. As a validation and a first application of the script, we conducted a study to explore the determinants of cheating in an unproctored online test.
Methods & Data: 541 members of an online panel participated in an experiment presenting 10 test items that could easily be looked up using a search engine (general knowledge questions) and 10 items for which the solution could not easily be looked up on the Internet (a logic test based on matrices). The incentive to cheat was varied experimentally in three steps: In a first group, participants received a monetary reward only when they performed well enough in the test; in a second group, participants were rewarded regardless of their performance on the test, and in a third group no incentive whatsoever was offered.
Results: The PageFocus script revealed that participants cheated more when performance-related incentives were being offered. As expected, this effect was however limited to those items for which it was possible to look up the solution using a search engine. Cheating participants achieved higher scores.
Added Value: Our study provides a first successful validation of PageFocus, a new JavaScript allowing to determine whether the participants of an online test switch to another web page while completing their test items. The script can be used to detect both, whether test takers look up the solution to items they would otherwise be unable to solve, or to detect participants switching back and forth from a survey to an unrelated application running in the background. PageFocus might be a promising new tool to improve data quality in online research.
Year of publication2014
Bibliographic typeConferences, workshops, tutorials, presentations
Full text availabilityNon-existant

Web survey bibliography - 2014 (332)