Web Poll Research: Can It Be Trusted?

Figures_Poll In today's day and age, when more and more individuals have access to not only the internet but to creating and launching their own blogs, web sites, and so forth, just about anyone can (and often does) create and distribute their own quick web based "research polls." These polls can be on any and every topic imaginable, from querying which cartoon character you most resemble, to your opinion on the current economic climate in a country.

However the question remains, can these "polls" be trusted? Should their results be distributed in the general media, and if so, should the public place weight on their results?

One should look at the results of web poll research with a critical eye. In a sense, the results from a poll should be 'interviewed' as if one were interviewing a person. Taking web poll results with an understanding of their limitations will help prevent outlandish claims based off poll results.

Some basic questions that can be asked when reviewing poll results include the following: Who were the poll sponsors? Why was the poll conducted? If the poll was outsourced from the original sponsors, then who conducted it? Does the company have a history of generating high quality data, and of publishing their methodology? What questions were asked? Were these questions clearly worded, and unbiased? Are the results reported accurately and completely?

By asking questions like these in addition to others, you will be able to determine which web poll research results stand out as quality from the crowd.

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