Conducting Online Research With Dyads


This case study describes the challenges in gathering online survey data from couples and the strategies we employed to ensure the trustworthiness of data collection and the validity of the data. We highlight the importance of including checks in online surveys that allow researchers to catch scammers, programmed “bots,” and invalid responses. We also describe the process of adjusting our approach to data collection and survey design when checks revealed that a large proportion of respondents were not couples but were likely individuals attempting to scam the study to gain incentives for participating. Issues to consider when gathering data from paired individuals (i.e., couples or other dyads) are presented, along with the potential advantages and disadvantages of different approaches. Specific attention is given to considerations regarding the order and timing of data collection from both members of a couple. We particularly address the benefits, drawbacks, and variable logistical choices that can be made in the process of collecting data sequentially in a single survey or through parallel unshared surveys. Using our online survey study of 325 remarried couples with at least one child from a prior union as the case study, we describe our experiences and draw lessons learned that may benefit other researchers.

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