Methodological Issues In Web-based Research


  • Mary E. Duffy

    Corresponding author
    1. Mary E. Duffy, RN, PhD, FAAN, Alpha Chi, Professor & Director, Center for Nursing Research, Boston College School of Nursing, Chestnut Hill, MA
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Dr. Duffy, Center for Nursing Research, 433 Cushing Hall, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467. E-mail:


Purpose: To examine methodological issues associated with using the Internet and World Wide Web for scientific research, namely, issues related to the nature of the sample, the testing environment and environmental factors, privacy, and confidentiality, and response rates.

Methods: Reviews of literature and personal observation and experience.

Findings: Web-based research provides many advantages such as access to specific, sometimes difficult-to-find populations, speed of data access, and decreased costs for data collection and data entry. Such benefits are likely to increase as more nurse scientists use the Web for research purposes.

Conclusions: Nurse researchers who use this technology must consider the methodological problems associated with Web-based methods. The research potential exists, but the methodological issues discussed in this paper are real and, if not addressed, they can seriously affect the validity of study findings.