Vera Toepoel’s practical, how-to guide to doing surveys online takes you through the entire process of using surveys, from systematically recruiting respondents, to designing the internet survey, to processing the survey data and writing it up. This book helps students and researchers in identifying possible strategies to make the best use of online surveys, providing pro’s and con’s, and do’s and don’ts for each strategy. It also explores the latest opportunities and developments that have arisen in the field of online surveys, including using social networks, and provides expert guidance and examples of best practice throughout. Suitable for those starting a research project or conducting a survey in a professional capacity, this book is the ideal go-to reference for anyone using internet surveys, be it a beginner or a more experienced survey researcher.

Processing and Cleaning the Data

INTRODUCTORY CASE: Data cleaning for the CentERpanel

The CentERpanel is one of the first established online probability-based panels in the world. Many longitudinal surveys have been fielded in this panel. The following steps are taken to clean the data for these longitudinal projects:

  • Merge files wave 1 to wave X (in case of longitudinal surveys),
  • Investigate duplicate cases and keep the best one (furthest in the questionnaire),
  • Remove test cases,
  • Transform randomizations/permutations when applicable,
  • Remove every case that looked at the introductory screen only and did not complete any question,
  • Delete redundant variables (e.g. intros and headers),
  • Create/improve/check variable names,
  • Create/improve/check variable labels,
  • Create/improve/check value labels,
  • Recode/transform variables including value labels (e.g. scales running from 1–10 in the data, but presented as 0–10 in the survey),
  • Define missing values,
  • Calculate the ...
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