We do almost everything online these days, so why not research? I’m often surprised when I find others hesitant to conduct research online, but now and then I run into the occasional person who has reservations about moving research from offline to online.

Their primary concern centers on the quality of participants. How do we know they are who they say they are? How do we know they are giving good responses?

Fair enough. I might be concerned if people didn’t ask these questions. However, the general feeling is that there will be more quality issues with online respondents than offline respondents — but, of course, no one has ever lied about who they are in person, right?

As my previous comment might indicate, my response is that there really is no difference between the quality of online respondents and the quality of offline respondents. You face the same possible issues with respondent quality — and those who may fib about parts of their lives to qualify for a study or those straightlining respondents who participate solely to earn the incentive/be entered into that drawing. However, if you’re really concerned, sample providers such as Lightspeed Research have several metrics in place to ensure the quality of your respondents — as communicated in a recent blog post.

I would argue that online research actually allows us to get better-quality feedback from mainstream consumers. Living in the age of the Internet and the emergence of social media, consumers more than ever feel empowered to seek opportunities to give feedback to companies. And online research actually makes it easier to seek out those participants who are most eager to give feedback because they want nothing more than to have their voice heard — and as a qualitative researcher who has read thousands of pages of consumer feedback, this is exactly what I have found throughout my research experience.

What differences have you found between the quality of online and offline respondents?