The following is an e-mail I received from an SJMC graduate student:
We have a new study waiting for your participation. The study titled, "Thoughts and Feelings Toward Current Brands and Current Issues" (conducted by Whitney Walther and Dr. Heather LaMarre)" currently recruits 150 participants. This study involves two online surveys.
The online research study was conducted by a grad student/TA for a school/Senior project, though specific purposes nor motives were listed. It was a nonrepresentative study of convenience, using other SJMC students to whom she has easy access and knew would probably be willing to participate. The survey did not contain many open-ended questions and could be considered flawed due to nonverbal, impersonal communication, the fact that perhaps not all participants were 100% honest during testing, and there was no cause-effect correlation to produce completely accurate results, and though it was concepted as an external field study, it cannot be presumed to represent the "real world".
The benefits following the research could have led to qualitative findings or led to producing more qualitative questions for future surveys or experiments. This survey was implemented in this particular student's research because she wanted to describe levels of beliefs, awarenesses, perceptions, etc. and to draw comparisons. She was not aiming to make predictions or determine a cause to the effect, in which case a survey would have not been appropriate. I, too, would have conducted a survey in this scenario, in order to compile various findings and be able to make some sort of educational generalization.