This page addresses questions we've received from researchers interested in using our panel. Hopefully it will help answer some of your questions. If not, feel free to send us an e-mail. Also examine technical reports about the StudyResponse project, cut and paste a useful bibliography of studies that have used web-based samples, or see our researcher FAQ. Look here for the basic guidelines to which all studies using the StudyResponse panel must adhere.
In general terms, StudyResponse serves as a remailer that sends recruitment/reminder messages to individuals who have explicitly agreed to participate in web-based research studies through a double-opt in process. During researcher registration you configure different aspects of your sample such as sample size, demographic mixture, etc. We then draw a random sample from our database according to your specifications. We send out messages to all of the respondents selected to participate in your study. Respondents follow a link to your online research instrument.
These are the typical steps for the standard draw research process:
Here is more information about:
Recruitment: We send a message to panelists based on the strategy you specify in your researcher registration. We include respondents based on your criteria (i.e. balanced in terms of gender or ethnicity, only people in a certain age range, etc.). Reminder messages can be sent at intervals you describe and we can send multiple waves for studies with time delays. All messages are personalized with the respondent's StudyResponse ID number (see below). We keep track of who clicks through to your survey, and of how many messages bounce back undeliverable. We oversample to ensue that non-responsive email addresses will not adversely affect your overall draw size.
Participant Identification: All studies are anonymous: We never reveal names or email addresses of participants to you. Participants are identified by a unique ID , which you should ask them to enter into the survey (you'll need to add a field to your survey for this; the field should allow 2 to 6 decimal digits). After initial recruitment is complete, we will send you a database containing participant ID numbers and demographic characteristics (age, gender, ethnicity, education level, work situation, and occupation). When you are done collecting data, you can match these data with the ID numbers you received from those who responded to your study. This process facilitates comparison of respondents with non-respondents.
Identifying Information: A non-negotiable requirement for using StudyResponse is that you may not ask for respondents' names or other identifying information (i.e., e-mail addresses, name, address, social security number) in your survey or elsewhere. This helps to protect respondents' privacy and assures them that their identity is not connected with their responses. We also ask for your assurance that you discard IP addresses or other information that could be used to trace responses to respondents. Studies that do not discard IP addresses must provide an approval letter from their IRB authorizing the retention and use of such data.
Incentives and Participant Payment: All StudyResponse studies offer incentives for participation to participants, generally a random drawing to receive a gift certificate from an online retailer such as Amazon.com. Preliminary data from our project suggests that the most effective incentive plans offer a sizeable number of medium incentives (e.g., $50-$100) rather than one or two large prizes (e.g., $250-$500), or a mix of different prize sizes. Our internal studies show that cash is not better, once the painful logistics of distributing it are taken into account. Our participant incentive program is not a raffle, sweepstakes, or lottery: No purchase is necessary for participation. Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York (a 501c3 non-profit educational organization) handles all aspects of the administration of incentives and uses part of your licensing fee to fund them. Once your fee is paid, you have no further obligation with respect to the provision of incentives.
Institutional Review Board Approval: We must have a copy of your IRB approval letter on file before recruitment can begin. Based on prior projects, we recommend the following strategy for working with your IRB. First, clearly mention that your sampling procedures will include: "sending recruiting messages by email to individuals who have volunteered to participate in web-based research." Second, for scientific reasons, you should develop other sources of participants, even if only a small sample, such that you will be able to cross validate. Third, although you may choose to refer to the StudyResponse project in your IRB application if you wish, you may not describe the principals of the StudyResponse project as collaborators or Syracuse University as a subcontractor on your project. We facilitate sampling for many studies simultaneously and it would be impractical for us to review and analyze this many studies on a collaborative basis. Additionally, Syracuse University's IRB may object to your inclusion of us as collaborators on the basis that they have not had the opportunity to review and approve your project. If you have questions about working with your IRB, feel free to send us an e-mail. Remember that we cannot facilitate sampling for any project that has not received IRB approval from a host institution. Universities and research organizations in Canada, U.K., Australia, and New Zealand may be eligible to use StudyResponse, depending upon their review processes with respect to local and national ethics review organizations. We have more information available on this point.