Carina Cornesse, Annelies G. Blom
Response Quality in Nonprobability and Probability-based Online Panels

Sociological Methods & Research, In Press: (publ. online before print)
ISSN: 0049-1241 (print), 1552-8294 (online)

Recent years have seen a growing number of studies investigating the accuracy of nonprobability online panels; however, response quality in nonprobability online panels has not yet received much attention. To fill this gap, we investigate response quality in a comprehensive study of seven nonprobability online panels and three probability-based online panels with identical fieldwork periods and questionnaires in Germany. Three response quality indicators typically associated with survey satisficing are assessed: straight-lining in grid questions, item nonresponse, and midpoint selection in visual design experiments. Our results show that there is significantly more straight-lining in the nonprobability online panels than in the probability-based online panels. However, contrary to our expectations, there is no generalizable difference between nonprobability online panels and probability-based online panels with respect to item nonresponse. Finally, neither respondents in nonprobability online panels nor respondents in probability-based online panels are significantly affected by the visual design of the midpoint of the answer scale.