Got Bots? Practical Recommendations to Protect Online Survey Data from Bot Attacks
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Title: Got Bots? Practical Recommendations to Protect Online Survey Data from Bot Attacks
Authors: Storozuk, A., Ashley, M., Delage, V., & Maloney, E.A. (2020).
Journal and DOI: The Quantitative Methods in Psychology. DOI: 10.20982/tqmp.16.5.p472
Many scientists and researchers use the Internet to collect data. But bots have begun invading surveys, ultimately threatening the integrity of online research.
What is a bot?
Bots are malicious software applications that complete automated tasks online, like filling out surveys, to get rewards. If not caught quickly, bots can overwhelm researchers with hundreds of fake responses in a matter of hours!
What did we do?
We identified 10 bot-detection strategies from previous research and applied them to our own online surveys. We then categorized the strategies by how effective they were at catching or preventing bots.
What did we find?
Most effective strategies:
- Screening email addresses
- Screening open-ended responses and revere scored items
- Not sharing the survey link publicly
- Monitoring time of survey completion
- Monitoring speed of survey completion
Moderately effective strategies:
- Embedding a CAPTCHA into the survey
- Checking the eligibility of IP addresses
- Attention check questions
Least effective strategies:
- Honeypot questions
- Presenting text as an image
Why is this important?
Bot-activity in survey data is inevitable. To uphold high quality online research, researchers must know how to protect their data from bots, be able to detect bots in their data, and remove bot responses from their data.