How/where to build your online study

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Hosted vs. Installed vs. build your own

There are 3 main ways that you can go about doing research on the internet.

For more information on conducting research on the internet and an online wiki directory of survey hosting services and survey software, visit the Cii Wiki at

► Hosted Solutions

Survey Monkey - This is perhaps the most popular hosted solution on the internet. The free version allows 100 responses to 10 questions. The "professional" solution costs $20/month and allows 1000 responses with an unlimited number of pages/questions. There is some advanced functionality such as the ability to skip questions, randomize response order, and require responses to questions. - I searched through all the online survey software websites a few months ago looking for the best options to conduct my studies online, and finally decided on Qualtrics. Their software has the most options, and is the easiest to use. They have educational prices, but its still not cheap.

Similar to Survey Monkey, but higher priced ($49/month+) and I don't see any additional functionality.

They have all the basic functionality (question presentation logic and randomization) and tout their service as being more secure which justifies their higher price (they charge per question and per respondent). I do not have any experience with them to be able to validate their claims either way.

Timeshare Experiment for the Social Sciences - This NSF funded project allows one the ability to do a survey on a representative sample of internet users, something which is almost impossible to do on your own. Unfortunately, it looks like funding may run out for this project as of this writing.

► Code you have to install

SurveyWiz - This tool allows you to create HTML which you can then upload to your web site. A full discussion of it accompanies Birnbaum's book, Behavioral Research on the Internet ( The data will either be emailed to you or be downloadable from the author's website.

Marketing Survey Tool

This code, from, does some wonderful things once you figure out how to configure it. It can be used to create randomized surveys with rotating blocks of questions. Some questions (ie. informed consent, debriefing) can be placed at fixed spots while others appear in random order. Not only the questions can be randomized, but the responses can be randomized. Questions can take text, numeric, multiple choice, radio button, matrix, or drop down list box responses. Data is easily downloadable in comma delimited form for import into a statistical package. Of all the tools I've seen, this one works the best. The only drawback is that it requires some work to configure without the best documentation in the world.

Lime Survey

This free program is written in php. It is easy to use, and has many features. It can be downloaded from Features include a WYSIWYG html editor, 20 different question types, conditional branching, support for over 40 different languages, and easy data export to csv, Excel, or SPSS data files. The project is under active development as of July 2008.

► Build your own tool

Not for the faint of heart, but you can do some amazing things once you know what you're doing. For example, one can build in Flash or dynamic HTML that allows a user to interface with an experiment in much like they do with an arcade game. One can add multimedia and time responses. One can do longitudinal studies with automatic emails generated to solicit continued response.

Teaching you how to do build an internet research experiment from scratch is not possible on this page, but we can point you in the right direction.

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