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How representative is a self-selected web-panel? The effect on representativeness of different sampling procedures and survey modes

Conference contribution
Authors Stefan Dahlberg
Johan Martinsson
Sebastian Lundmark
Published in The Annual Meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, Orlando, May 2012
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Political Science
Language en
Keywords sampling, representativeness, web surveys, random sampling, self-recruited samples
Subject categories Statistics, Political Science


This paper makes a systematic comparison between different sampling procedures and survey modes by making use of three different types of surveys. In all three surveys, identical questions and wordings are used. However, they are all three separate studies whereas the first study is based on a representative sample of approximately 3 000 Swedish citizens (based on the national census register). This study is carried out as a traditional postal survey by the Swedish SOM-institute. The second study is also based on a representative sample of approximately 3 000 Swedish citizens (recruited by telephone from the national census register), but in this case the survey is entirely carried out as a web-survey, distributed by e-mail. The third and final study is carried out as a web-survey as well but is instead based on a selfrecruited citizen panel of 10 000 Swedish citizens. All three surveys were carried out during October to December, 2011. In order to evaluate potential differences between varying sampling procedures and survey modes, we will a) compare the composition of respondents in terms of general SES-related background characteristics between the three surveys, both in terms of potential differences in levels and correlations, and b) analyze the differences in three sets of questions tapping, values, attitudes and behavior. By doing this we will be able to uncover how representative a large-sample self-recruited panel actually can become as well as what the usage of new technological media in surveys does to an initially representative sample in a technologically advanced country. Important questions that we will be able to answer concerns to what extent different sampling procedures and survey modes affect the representativeness of a sample? If potential differences varies between different types of survey questions, i.e. questions relating to values, attitudes and behavior etc.

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