So in the last post we discussed the potential benefits to companies performing panel research, and now we’ll start to explore some of the weaknesses. As with all weaknesses, the way they affect your company’s research depends a great deal on the panel you choose, the type of questions you ask, your industry, and so on.
Weaknesses of Panel Research
- Sample Issues
Sample size isn’t necessarily a problem with panel research, because the idea is to track the changes of the panel over time rather than get a larger view of the population. That said, small samples are small samples. There could be an inherent bias in the panel that wouldn’t be present in a larger population, and that could affect your data.
When you work with only one panel, there is a tendency for that panel to become bored with your study. That boredom could introduce more bias into your data, because the answers that the individual gives are less about behaviors and experiences and more about getting the survey completed quickly. In addition, many members of this type of panel have been panels to other types of research before (since panel selection often takes place through a company) and it’s possible that over time the respondent is not only bored with your survey – they’re also bored with all surveys by the time follows ups take place.
- Dropout/Response Rate More Meaningful
When you track changes to data through a panel, your research could be more affected by dropout rate or response rate issues. Every data point is important for understanding the mean and tracked changes, and if someone drops out or simply doesn’t provide a response to the survey, it could introduce measurement issues that prevent you from receiving meaningful results.
- Panel Selection
Panel selection itself can be difficult. You need to make sure that you are able to select a panel that is representative of what you hope to research (so that you don’t introduce biases) and is willing to continue to take the survey over a long period of time. Selecting a panel that works for your company can be done, but it can also be tough if you have little experience or select incorrectly.
While those are some of the weaknesses of panel research, there are more considerations that make performing panel research somewhat difficult. We will explore more of them in the next article.