• Poster

Examining the Use and Effectiveness of a Help Desk in Providing Support for Self Administered Web Interviews


Roe, D., Baxter, R., Carley-Baxter, L., & Franklin, J. W. (2005, May). Examining the Use and Effectiveness of a Help Desk in Providing Support for Self Administered Web Interviews. Presented at American Association for Public Opinion Research 60th Annual Conference, Miami Beach, FL.


Researchers are beginning to utilize the World Wide Web as a mode of data collection, either as a stand-alone instrument or as part of a mixed mode approach. While the use of the Web as a mode of data collection presents some advantages over other methods such as mail or telephone, new challenges have arisen. One such challenge is ensuring that respondents are able to overcome technical difficulties they may experience while attempting a self administered Web interview. Respondents may also misunderstand, misinterpret or be confused about the meaning of a given survey question, and not have a trained professional to turn to for clarification as they would during a telephone interview.

Some research organizations have begun providing toll-free telephone numbers to web respondents where trained professionals can assist them with issues ranging from lost passwords to item related questions. This analysis presents results from two such surveys; one of students enrolled in postsecondary education institutions in the US, and another comprised of postsecondary faculty, both sponsored by the US Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics. We expect that receiving assistance from a Help Desk Agent leads to a completed interview in a high proportion of cases who call in for assistance. We also expect that among these completed cases, a relatively small amount of time elapses between contact with the help desk and completion of an interview. The analysis will also explore and present results on why respondents call help desks, the frequency of multiple calls from respondents and whether or not these multiple contacts were for assistance with the same or different issues.