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  4. Completing social surveys on smartphones: what should we be worried about?




Completing social surveys on smartphones: what should we be worried about?




Speakers: Tim Hanson, Peter Matthews and Alice McGee, Kantar Public UK

Series: NatCen-ESS ERIC-City methodology seminar series

The School of Arts & Social Sciences, on behalf of City, University of London, welcomes Tim Hanson, Peter Matthews and Alice McGee, to City, University of London.


As use of smartphones has grown in recent years, so too has the proportion of respondents choosing to complete surveys using these devices. As researchers, we have needed to consider what impact this may have on survey data quality, and how best to enable people to complete questionnaires on smartphones without impacting negatively on their experience. In the first part of our talk we will show why this issue has grown in importance, look at the levels of respondents completing a range of UK social surveys by smartphone, and describe development work conducted to move towards ‘mobile first’ survey design. The second part of the talk will focus on two UK social surveys - the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England, and the Community Life Survey - where we have conducted analysis to assess the impact of using different devices on data quality indicators. Through this, we will identify any differences between devices, question how concerned we should be about these, and consider what further work is required to increase our understanding and inform future survey design.

About the speakers

Tim Hanson is a Director at Kantar Public UK and has over 13 years’ experience in designing and managing social surveys. Tim has a particular interest in questionnaire design and has worked with numerous government clients in developing survey questionnaires. He has led several questionnaire development, cognitive and usability testing projects and has conducted a number of experiments to inform questionnaire design. One of Tim’s current areas of interest is to examine the design challenges posed and opportunities offered by the increased use of mobile devices to complete social surveys. He has delivered papers on this topic at a range of conferences, including the 2015 Understanding Society Scientific Conference, the 2016 Questionnaire Design, Development, Evaluation and Testing Conference, and the 2017 European Survey Research Association Conference.

Peter Matthews is an Associate Director in the Kantar Public UK Survey Methods team. Peter is responsible for methodological design and statistical analysis across a range of policy areas including education, business, energy, and national statistics. In particular, he has recently worked on a number of studies with young people. Peter has co-authored various papers on the use of smartphones for completing large-scale social surveys, delivered at the European Social Research Association conference (2017), the Social Research Association annual conference (2015) and the Understanding Society conference (2015), and published in the Social Research Association journal (2018 and 2017).

Alice McGee works with Kantar Public as a Research Associate and has an established background in survey methodology after starting her research career at the National Centre for Social Research in 2002. Alice specialises in cognitive and usability pre-testing of survey questions and instruments and has recently been involved in a number of projects aiming to adapt existing face-to-face surveys to be suitable for online self-completion. Of particular interest to Alice are questions on sensitive or challenging topics and she has considerable experience of designing questions and interview materials for children. Ongoing work in developing Kantar Public’s social survey template for use across a range of devices has become a key interest for Alice over the last year or so and she presented a paper on this topic at the 2017 European Survey Research Association Conference.

Event contact - Stefan Swift

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When and where

5.45pm - 7.15pmThursday 24th May 2018

ELG03 Drysdale Building City, University of London Northampton Square London EC1V 0HB United Kingdom

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