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Web Probing

Coordinator 1Dr Katharina Meitinger (GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)
Coordinator 2Dr Dorothée Behr (GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)
Coordinator 3Dr Michael Braun (GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)
Coordinator 4Dr Lars Kaczmirek (University of Vienna)

Session Details

Web probing – that is, the implementation of probing techniques from cognitive interviewing in web survey with the goal to assess the validity of survey items – is a valuable addition to the toolbox of (cross-cultural) survey methodologists (Behr et al. 2017). Thanks to the implementation in web surveys, web probing can have large sample sizes which allow for an analysis of response patterns in subpopulations and a prevalence assessment of question problems and themes. The method has already been used to assess measurement instruments for a large variety of topics and methodological research has already addressed several aspects of web probing (e.g., optimal visual text box design [Behr et al. 2013], probe order [Meitinger et al. 2018], nonresponse detection [Kaczmirek et al. 2017], and targeted embedded probing [Scanlon 2016]).
Although web probing has been successfully applied to several substantive and methodological topics, research gaps and methodological challenges remain: Previous studies have shown that web probing can have an overall satisfactory data quality; nevertheless, a methodological challenge is to further reduce item-nonresponse and mismatching responses. There is also a great diversity in the samples used in web probing studies (e.g., quota-based nonprobability samples, crowdsourcing platforms such as MTurk) but so far a discussion is missing on how different samples might affect data quality and which conclusion can be drawn from different data sources. Also, most of the previous web probing studies focused on Western countries and the majority of studies used the method after official data collection to follow-up on problematic items rather than during a pretest. Thus, the full potential of the method has not been explored yet.
For this session, we invite (1) presentations with a substantive application of web probing and (2) presentations that address some of the methodological challenges and considerations of web probing.