At times, online survey taking can be frustratingly time consuming. Over the years, survey designs have improved and have become more interactive, but it’s still not uncommon to experience fatigue when you’re faced with a seemingly endless list of questions that all require you to answer the same way.
Although there’s a fine line between being efficient, and “speeding” through surveys, there are some things you can do to speed up your survey taking times in a legitimate fashion, without breaking any rules.
What survey panels think of fast survey takers
To market researchers, people who take online surveys faster than average are known as “speeders”. Speeders are not looked kindly upon by market research companies. In fact, sometimes the data left by speeders is discarded, which can mean not getting compensated for a survey, or worse yet, being banned from a panel altogether.
How not to get caught speeding
There are a few things you can do to get away with spending less time taking online surveys.
- Speeders tend to give shorter answers to open-ended questions and complex questions, and sometimes even fully skip them! Don’t let this be you. Answer every question in detail, especially ones where you’re asked to type your answers into a box.
- Speeders tend to give inconsistent answers, that is, they answer one question one way, but then answer a similar question another way. If you’re going to complete a survey is less time than average, ensure that you’re actually reading the questions and are genuinely providing good quality answers.
- Improve your typing speeds. It’s not hard to see how this lends well to spending less time taking surveys. Using a physical keyboard will result in faster typing speeds, as on-screen typing is always slower and more prone to errors. So if you’re filling in a long survey, crank up your desktop and take it on there!
- Use form filling software such as Roboform, but be careful! Roboform is a relatively simple form filler which will automatically fill in things like your name, address, etc., on a website. It can also “remember” usernames and passwords of websites so that you don’t have to. This simple piece of software is fairly benign, but more sophisticated tools exist that can check boxes for you and speed up the actual survey taking process. Avoid these at all costs, as they can often be detectable by the research company conducting the study.
- Ensure your browser software and plugins are up to date. This sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how many people still use antiquated browsers to surf online. These can cause problems with surveys that are programmed using newer languages, so at a minimum, always ensure that your browser is current and that you have the latest edition of Flash installed. Having your internet browser crash in the middle of a survey is never a good scene.
Stay within the limits
A market researcher’s number one concern when administering a survey is data quality. Survey takers completing surveys quickly isn’t a concern in itself so much as the impact it has on their answers.
Remember that researchers are aware that some people are naturally fast. But if your account fails other quality checks, your account may be flagged, or even banned. If the survey offers a particularly lucrative incentive, pay attention to how quickly you’re completing the survey, as these surveys may be monitored more closely.
You never want to be in the fastest top 5-10% of survey takers, as these respondents will likely have their answers scrutinized more closely. One study showed that people who complete surveys more rapidly take almost half the time to complete a study than their non-speeding counterparts. Again, if you’re going to spend less time taking a survey, be reasonable about it and don’t allow your answers to become junk data. Otherwise, you risk your membership account being junked too.