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IGI Global Expert, Dr. Shalin Hai-Jew, shares how far survey designs and data analytics have come in the modern digital age.

Harnessing New Online Survey Designs and Data Analytics with Expert Dr. Shalin Hai-Jew

By Anne Long on May 2, 2019
Surveys are everywhere. Whether they are from a company asking for feedback on a product or service, or a way to get some extra perks following a purchase, many business and service providers use surveys to analyze important data to influence future decisions. However, a recent Quartz article says survey data may not hold complete credibility, bringing in the question of if they can be trusted. To show us just how far survey designs and data analytics have come in the modern digital age, Dr. Shalin Hai-Jew from Kansas State University, and author of the recent IGI Global publication Online Survey Design and Data Analytics, shares her research in this emerging field of study in an IGI Global interview.

Q: How did you get interested in the usage of online survey platforms?

In my work as an instructional designer and instructor, I work with our campus online survey platform and support researchers, faculty, and students in the usage of this particular tool. For my own work as a researcher, I have also used online survey platforms for various types of information collection. I’ve run an electronic Delphi study (online). There is something very appealing about seeing technologies that are well designed and experimenting with different ways of using technologies to conduct research.

Q: What are some of the capabilities of online survey platforms?

There are numerous powerful capabilities on online survey platforms now. For one, there is the ability to use scripting and custom code in surveys to create particular branches, dynamic questions, personalization in the messaging, and others.

Online elicitations can involve any kind of digital content for multimodal questions. There can be integrations of the surveys with games and videos and imagery.

There are built-ins for “hidden” information captures, such as how long people stayed on particular questions…or aspects of their technology systems used to access the survey. There are also built-in security features.

There are ways to crowd-source respondents through various commercial companies…and through social media. There are ways to reach audiences through commercial aggregator companies that “collect people,” if you will. And, it is possible to thin-slice populations to specific small groups and maybe even to individuals.

It is also possible to augment focus groups, F2F interviews, and such, or do follow-up data collection from events. These do not have to be stand-alone methods for data collection.

Beyond capturing research, such systems can be used for automated trainings, particularly at large scale, and with auto-recording of the performances into various data systems (outside the survey systems). They can be deployed offline for data collection, and then the data can be uploaded to servers once Internet connectivity is available, which means research can be done with such systems even with connectivity down.



Q: What inspired you to pursue research activities in your research area?

Understanding research methodologies in their various forms has been a point of interest for decades. There are different ways of knowing that are originated in various fields, and how these are operated is fascinating. I like when practitioners in different fields learn from others’ practices and bring new methods into their own fields, for new explorations and new “askable questions.”

Q: What were your main expectations for the outcome of this publication and how were they achieved?

My main expectations for Online Survey Design and Data Analytics: Emerging Research and Opportunities was to just capture some of the cooler capabilities in online survey design and the analysis of the data from these surveys. I want the work to help spark some conversations and some new approaches.

I do not have any intention here of describing foundational online survey design, about which there are a number of good texts already out in the world. Also, the unique contexts of the respective research help define some of the survey design standards, so a general sort of approach only goes so far.

Q: What would you say was the most surprising thing about your research?

So this project started out as an edited text, and a few researchers submitted works. Some were variations on long-known approaches. Others were unique applications to a particular research context (which is always fascinating even though the original authors may not realize how uniquely their context and culture may inform their work).

Q: What were the main challenges of conducting research?

All research is tough and effortful and consuming. In this particular case, the challenges had to do with conducting research on a cloud-based system that was undergoing constant change. There were challenges with finding original surveys and survey data that was usable for a publication (public-facing).

That said, I very much enjoyed conducting the reviews of the literature for this work. I sort of took it for granted that people must generally like to read if they’re researchers, but I’m seeing as I interact with others that it may not be so. I really enjoy seeing how others do their work and what they find. Then, I can contextualize my work and share my findings. In some rare cases, I may only be able to find a few works related to what I’m doing, even peripherally. When I first started conducting research many years ago, I was shocked when I would run up against the edges of knowledge in particular literature reviews. Now, I understand that every field has its edges and areas left unaddressed.

Q: What are some of the benefits of your research to its community of users?

I hope that the work sparks others to look at online survey research suites a little differently and to use more of the capabilities of the technology tools that they use. I hope they experiment more. I hope that they engage further and different research methodologies.

There is work on matrix coding queries, cross-tabulation analyses, a new method for open-access online Delphi studies, crosswalk analyses, and other approaches. There is work on setting up branching logic for self-administered online surveys. And others.

Now is such a great time to be conducting research because of the wide arrays of methods and tools.

Q: Why is your research here important to the field?

Employing various technologies to capture information can really enhance human subjects and other types of research. If subject matter experts are not taking advantage of these, they are missing out on a lot of what is empirically knowable, in reproducible and repeatable ways.

Q: What has your experience been like publishing with IGI Global?

So far, so good! I like holding up my end of professional promises, and I’ve found that IGI Global holds up theirs! They’re willing to go with me out on a limb now and again.
IGI Global would like to thank Dr. Hai-Jew for sharing her research on online survey designs and data analytics.
Bio: Dr. Shalin Hai-Jew works as an instructional designer at Kansas State University (K-State) and taught for WashingtonOnline for a number of years through 2014. She has taught at the university and college levels for many years (including four years in the People’s Republic of China) and was tenured at Shoreline Community College but left tenure to pursue instructional design work. She has Bachelor’s degrees in English and psychology, a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Washington (Hugh Paradise Scholar), and an Ed.D in Educational Leadership with a focus on public administration from Seattle University (where she was a Morford Scholar). She is currently editing a book titled Maintaining Social Well-Being and Meaningful Work in a Highly Automated Job Market.
Dr. Hai-Jew’s publication, Online Survey Design and Data Analytics: Emerging Research and Opportunities, is available through IGI Global’s Online Bookstore and world-renowned InfoSci®-Books, a database of 5,300+ reference books with over 100,000 full-text chapters focusing on emerging research.

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