Understanding 'Frequent Survey Responders' on Online Panels

01 April 2013
By Healey C. Whitsett

Internet surveys are not only growing in popularity in the market research industry, but in the legal industry as well. However, Internet surveys face several challenges. For instance, because there is no comprehensive list of the 71 percent of Americans who have Internet access at home, researchers must somehow find an alternate means of constructing sampling frames, or lists of individuals to sample for a given survey, for their studies. The most common solution to this problem is using an "online panel" of respondents that a research company has recruited. A potential issue stemming from the use of online panels is "frequent survey responders" (FSRs) who belong to online panels. As the name suggests, these are respondents who take more surveys, on average, than does the average online panel member.
In this NERA paper, Consultant Healey C. Whitsett conducts a systematic review of the literature describing research that has been done on frequent survey responders -- in total, this review considers 16 publications. To begin this review, Ms. Whitsett explains the reasons why researchers are concerned about FSRs. She then examines how FSRs are defined in the literature, FSRs' demographic characteristics, whether FSRs' reports of attitudes and/or behaviors differ from those of respondents who take surveys less frequently, and what impact, if any, FSRs' responses have on data quality.