Recently, a friend of mine asked her Facebook friends to take an online survey for a class of hers. She is a Journalism and Psychology student at UW Madison and used Madison's Qualtrics Survey format.
Concerning demographics, she asked:
-Age (fill in the blank)
-Gender (choose Male or Female)
-Zip code (fill in the blank)
-Occupation (fill in the blank)
-Race/Ethnicity (6 options and Other)
-Highest level of Ed. (choose GED, Some college, 2-year Associate's, 4-year Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, or Professional)
-Household size (fill in the blank)
Then came more fill-in-the-blank questions about previous car ownership, car brand values, car technology, attitudes towards hybrid cars, then specific questions concerning Chevrolet and their hybrid Volt. She used a mixture of open-ended and multiple choice questions.
This seems as though it was intended to provide qualitative answers, though the questions were pretty broad and most questions were answered in three or fewer words. It is understandable that online it is impossible to provide follow-up/discussion questions for more qualitative data. This type of research was evaluative, summative, primary, quantitative, but somewhat humanistic. The content validity is strong but cannot be guaranteed valid because it is unpredictable and not approved by experts or panels as true.
My answers were descriptive, as her survey was Description goal-oriented. Participants provided her with my demographics and a list of descriptive words about my attitude and knowledge of the Chevy Volt and hybrid cars in general. It is "what?" research rather than "why?", though I am sure she will conduct follow-up research to answer the "why's" to participants' "what's".
We were not informed of the purpose of the survey, but having been told it would be simple, quick, and painless probably increased the likelihood of friend and acquaintances willingness to participate. With that said, there is probably public resistance, along with other negative aspects. Some downfalls to her research are the lack of in-depth questions, brevity of the survey, and lack of control. However, it was free to conduct with immediate delivery, rapid data processing. and could poll a large population (though not necessarily diverse or an ideal sample size or quality). It is a good method to begin research analysis.