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American Association for Public Opinion Research

Webinar Details

Smarter Smartphone Surveys 201: Data Collection Methods and Survey Design Considerations

Trent Buskirk, PhD

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

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About This Course:

Nearly two in every three new cell phone purchases is a smartphone and current estimates posit that the overall penetration of these smart devices in the U.S. hovers at just over 60% (Nielsen Wire, 2012). The continued rise in internet usage on Smartphones has also created a new and growing phenomenon among online surveys known as “unintentional mobile response.” In these cases respondents attempt to complete normal online surveys using their mobile devices. Form factor differences create issues for how surveys render on smartphones compared to computers and without optimizing such surveys for the mobile environment, these differences can create undue respondent burden and lead to break offs. New research is emerging to suggest that the proportion of unintentional mobile completes for online surveys is rising and can be as high as 20%.

While these “smart” cell phones offer survey researchers unprecedented opportunities for data collection using multiple modes within a single device, surveys specific to smartphones require special considerations that account for rendering, form factor and technologies that are native to these devices. To date, these considerations have been the exception rather than the rule in many cases. While a smartphone App is one possible solution for collecting survey data, there are other methods for deploying surveys on these devices including mobile optimization of online questionnaires and app-like smartphone browser surveys. For each of these options, a series of design choices need to be made to optimize the user experience and maximize data yield. Additionally, the smartphone offers a series of paradata options that can be collected such as device type, usage and geographical coordinates. Special care may be required to ensure that these types of data are collected either actively or passively within a smartphone survey.

In this webinar, we explore the main frameworks for collecting survey data including apps, mobile-optimized and app-like surveys. We also provide seven emerging best practices/considerations for smartphone survey designs, as well as discuss how to use key paradata for optimizing smartphone surveys, and new forms of paradata that can be collected via the smartphone. Finally, we provide a broad overview of the computer programming frameworks one might use to develop your own smartphone surveys.

In this webinar, we won’t ask you to silence your smartphones ? rather we will explore what can happen when you turn them on and start collecting survey data!

Learning Objectives:

  • Three main frameworks for deploying surveys using smartphones.
  • Detailed understanding of the benefits and limits of using smartphones to conduct surveys or for other data collection purposes.
  • Specific considerations and emerging best practices for designing smartphone surveys.
  • Technical requirements and computing architecture available for accelerating the development, testing and deployment of smartphone surveys.

About the Instructor:

ImageTrent D. Buskirk, PhD, is Vice President of Statistics and Methodology at Marketing Systems Group. Formerly a Research Director for the Nielsen Company and Associate Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Biostatistics of the Saint Louis University School of Public Health, Dr. Buskirk has been conducting research relating to the use of cell phones and smartphones in survey research for over 12 years. He was among the first to explore the use of text messaging as pre-alerts/invitations for cell phone surveys and among the first researchers to explore mode effects for smartphone surveys in the U.S. Dr. Buskirk recently served as the Principal Investigator on a grant-funded project for developing and deploying a smartphone survey related to the use of health apps. His research interests also include dual frame weighting for cell phone surveys, as well as mode effects related to cell phone surveys, online and in-person surveys. Dr. Buskirk’s research work has appeared in various journals including the Journal of Official Statistics, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Field Methods, Social Science Computer Review and Survey Practice. He is currently the Chair of the American Statistical Association's Survey Review Committee, as well as a member of AAPOR’s Emerging Technologies Task Force. While not pursing academic or professional pursuits, Dr. Buskirk serves as the "Resident Prince" to his two very young Princesses in Residence. 


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