Screening is where the surveyer screens for certain types of people up front in an online survey.

Whilst this is a perfectly legitimate thing to do, one needs to take into consideration that there are a lot of people out there who are members of online survey panels in order to accumulate ‘points’ or cash from participating. These people are savvy enough to know to select items that increase their chances of being able to continue with a survey (and therefore get the points/cash).

When including a screening question, it is advisable that the true screening aspect is hidden in a list of aspects. Preferably, present a list of options which are all very different so that the respondent is forced to be honest due to not being able to guess the outcome, and present it in such a way so as skimmers are more likely to be disqualified.

For instance:

Which of the following best describes you?
Please choose one option per row

In this example the real screener is the one relating to online purchasing. The order is switched so that most people will chose the right-hand one for the first two rows, but the qualifier is the left hand option for the screener, therefore increasing the chances of disqualifying those who are skimming for the completion points.