Interactive research

In interactive research the participant interacts, via a computer connection, to questions or other stimuli presented on a screen or by some other means. The process may provide a response by means of a keyboard, a computer mouse or a touch-sensitive screen.

There is no interviewer with most interactive research systems and this helps to remove potential problems associated with such matters as the cost of interviewers, the need for supervision and potential biasing influence. There is no risk of the influence of inflection or accent, nor is there any limitation on delicate subject matter, often present with an interviewer.

As responses are automatically entered into the system, there is no need for the expensive process of the individual coding of each answer and all interactive systems ask the questions in the same form and order. Most interactive research systems provide questionnaire skip patterns, so that subsidiary questions are always asked when they should be asked and skipped when they should not be asked. As with all computer-based systems, these interactive methods provide rapid reporting of results. The responses are barely in the system before the summary tables are produced.

Interactive methods have their limitations. Only a reasonably straightforward series of questions can be asked; a complicated questionnaire cannot be handled through this medium. Moreover, since the method is almost a self-administered exercise, no opportunity exists for asking open-ended questions.

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