Cipher 2021

Live-recording of keynote: “What Internet panel surveys can learn from the design of smartphone-app studies.”

Several studies have explored using smartphone-apps as a way to collect social and behavioral data. Some notable successful studies have in recent years been conducted in the context of travel behavior, time use, household consumption, or ‘in-the-moment’ attitudinal measures about a variety of subjects.

One characteristic of smartphone studies is that they follow participants over a period of time to measure (short-term) changes. This is a goal that they have in common with panel studies, that typically re-interview the same respondents every year or every few months. Apart from overlap in the goal in these types of studies, smartphone-app studies and panel studies have similar problems in terms of dropout, and panel maintenance.

There are however many differences between panel studies and smartphone studies, that partly stem from the primary device that is being used to collect data. Panel studies have either been designed for face-to-face completion (often re-interviewing respondents every year), or for PC/laptop completion (often re-interviewing respondents monthly or bi-monthly. Smartphone studies usually re-interview respondents daily, or even take continuous measurements, but then last perhaps a few weeks or months in total.

dr. Lugtig will discuss existing design differences between panel studies and smartphone-app studies using examples from several existing studies. He will discuss the relative strengths of smartphone-apps and panel studies, and their relative weaknesses in the context of the Total Survey Error framework, and will discuss with an overview of what each type of study can learn from each other. To conclude, Dr. Lugtig will outline some possible designs for ‘hybrid’ studies that use the smartphone to study change over longer periods of time, while including ‘measurement bursts’ that can be employed to better study life events or short-term change.