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Measurement Issues Related to Data Collection on the World Wide Web

Strickland, Ora L. RN, PhD, FAAN; Moloney, Margaret F. RN, PhD, ANP; Dietrich, Alexa S.; Myerburg, Stuart JD; Cotsonis, George A. MA; Johnson, Robert V.


As the World Wide Web has become more prominent as a mode of communication, it has opened up new possibilities for research data collection. This article identifies measurement issues that occur with Internet data collection that are relevant to qualitative and quantitative research approaches as they occurred in a triangulated Internet study of perimenopausal women with migraine headaches. Issues associated with quantitative data collection over the Internet include (a) selecting and designing Internet data collection protocols that adequately address study aims while also taking advantage of the Internet, (b) ensuring the reliability and validity of Internet data collected, (c) adapting quantitative paper-and-pencil data collection protocols for the Internet, (d) making Internet data collection practical for respondents and researchers, and (e) ensuring the quality of quantitative data collected. Qualitative data collection over the Internet needs to remain true to the philosophical stance of the qualitative approach selected. Researcher expertise in qualitative data collection must be combined with expertise in computer technology and information services if data are to be of ultimate quality. The advantages and limitations of collecting qualitative data in real time or at a later time are explored, as well as approaches to enhance qualitative data collection over the Internet. It was concluded that like any research approach or method, Internet data collection requires considerable creativity, expertise, and planning to take advantage of the technology for the collection of reliable and valid research data.

From the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, Ga. (Strickland, Moloney)

Department of Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, Ga. (Dietrich)

Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Ga. (Myerburg, Cotsonis, Johnson)

This article is based on a study supported by NIH Grant No. R15 NR05303.

Corresponding author: Ora L. Strickland, RN, PhD, FAAN, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, 1520 Clifton Rd. N.E., Atlanta, GA 30322 (e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.