Internet Panels, Professional Respondents, and Data Quality

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Most web surveys collect data through nonprobability or opt-in online panels, which are characterized by self-selection. A concern in online research is the emergence of professional respondents, who frequently participate in surveys and are mainly doing so for the incentives. This study investigates if professional respondents can be distinguished in online panels and if they provide lower quality data than nonprofessionals. We analyzed a data set of the NOPVO (Netherlands Online Panel Comparison) study that includes 19 panels, which together capture 90% of the respondents in online market research in the Netherlands. Latent class analysis showed that four types of respondents can be distinguished, ranging from the professional respondent to the altruistic respondent. A profile of professional respondents is depicted. Professional respondents appear not to be a great threat to data quality.

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