Can survey item characteristics relevant to mode-specific measurement error be coded reliably


Item characteristics can have a significant effect on survey data quality and may be associated with measurement error. Literature on data quality and measurement error is often inconclusive. This could be because item characteristics used for detecting measurement error are not coded unambiguously. In our study, we use a systematic coding procedure with multiple coders to investigate the extent to which the coding of item characteristics could be done reliably. For this purpose, we constructed an item characteristics scheme that is based on typologies of characteristics. High intercoder reliability indicates a clear relation between item characteristic, item content, and measurement error. Our results show that intercoder reliability is often low, especially for item characteristics that are hard to code due to subjectivity. Low intercoder reliability complicates comparisons between studies about item characteristics and measurement error. We give suggestions for coping with low intercoder reliability.

Sociological Methods & Research, 48 (2), 263–295