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I've heard that in some social science departments, simple survey-based "experiments" are done by distributing a survey packet to some population (e.g., students in an intro psych course). This packet may contain questions from various researchers. They put all the questions into one packet to cut down on costs and logistical hassle, the idea being that for certain kinds of broad, simple data collection, possible interference effects from other items in the same packet can be an acceptable price to pay for easily getting a large amount of data.

Nowadays, a lot of researchers are also doing surveys online, using sites like SurveyMonkey. What I'm wondering is whether any research practices/resources have developed that are akin to the "packet-sharing" shortcut described above.

For instance, SurveyMonkey Audience apparently charges $1 per response for a survey with up to 15 questions. If one researcher were doing a survey with 10 questions, and another were doing a survey with 5 questions, they could be combined into one that would only cost half as much as doing them separately. (I haven't looked at what other survey sites charge but I wouldn't be surprised if similar opportunities exist.)

I could imagine that this sort of thing would just be handled informally within departments, by people asking around to see if anyone else had a survey they could combine with. Is that the only way this happens? I know that in similar domains (e.g., running experiments on Mechanical Turk) researchers have developed and shared software to make the process smoother, and I'm curious whether anyone has created anything like a "survey cost-sharing clearinghouse" where researchers doing surveys could be matched up in a way that minimizes costs for all involved. It seems like it would be a useful resource for those doing this kind of research.

  • One of the benefits of online survey platforms is that you can reach a population that isn't just psych undergrads. In your cost sharing scheme, surveys could only share if they're interested in the same population. – ff524 Apr 13 '16 at 7:15
  • @ff524: That's certainly true, and is something that could also be handled by such a clearinghouse (by matching those with compatible populations). – BrenBarn Apr 13 '16 at 7:18

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