Integration of mobile devices into survey research in social sciences: Development of a comprehensive methodological approach




1.5.2017 - 30.4.2020

Range on year:

1.05 FTE | 2017


prof.dr. Vasja Vehovar

Research activity:

Social sciences

The phases of the project and their realization:

The project objectives will be achieved through a set of activities grouped into the following work packages: WP1-PROJECT MANAGEMENT (The administration and coordination of project activities will be performed throughout the entire duration of the project. The main aims will be to clearly specify responsibilities, timetable and deliverables, monitor and assure the quality and timeliness of the conducted work, and guarantee compliance with contractual obligations.); WP2-ANALYSES OF SECONDARY DATA (The first set of research activities will rely on readily available data to assess the non-coverage bias in mobile surveys and study the data quality implications of using mobile devices to complete standard web questionnaires in non-experimental surveys.); WP3-DEVELOPMENT OF TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS (Despite the project’s primary focus on methodological rather than technological aspects of mobile surveys, the proposed research will require the identification of suitable technical solutions and their integration with the survey software. The existing solutions will be used as much as possible to optimise the effort needed for this work package.); WP4-EXPERIMENTAL SURVEYS (The central empirical part of the project will comprise two experimental surveys on target populations with high proportions of smartphone users. Both surveys will address the most essential aspects of data quality in mobile web surveys, but with a focus on different research questions within the scope of the project.); WP5-PANEL STUDY (We will also establish a pilot online panel for mobile survey research, which will combine the key objectives of both experimental surveys and evaluate them on a larger scale among selected segments of the general population of Slovenian residents.); WP6-DISSEMINATION OF THE RESULTS (The project results will provide important new scientific knowledge for survey methodology and useful applications for general survey practice. We, therefore, expect significant visibility of the results in the scientific community and among users of survey research).

Research Organisation:


Citations for bibliographic records:


This project will address the integration of mobile devices into survey research, which is one the most promising recent developments in survey methodology. Mobile web surveys, which are designed for completion on smartphones and tablet computers, offer improvements in survey data collection in terms of access to research participants and enhancing survey answers using specific features of mobile devices (e.g. taking photographs, recording audio and scanning barcodes). They also allow data integration from sensors built into mobile devices to provide further insights into an individual’s location, movement, activity, environment and more. However, the exploitation of these potentials in the social sciences remains scattered and limited. The project will combine a range of methods to conduct research in the following areas: 1. Evaluation of representation issues of mobile web surveys. We will analyse the characteristics of mobile device users to understand which population groups are suitable for administration of mobile web surveys. We will then evaluate the willingness to participate in mobile web surveys and the effectiveness of various measures used to improve participation, particularly when collecting various types of sensor data from mobile devices. 2. Elaboration of mobile web questionnaire design principles. We will systematically evaluate problems with questionnaire presentation on mobile devices, where appropriate adjustments are needed to ensure response quality and comparability with web questionnaires for personal computers. Specifically, we will address the methodological performance of enhancing survey answers with photographs and other specific features of mobile devices. 3. Assessment of integrating sensor data to enhance survey data and improve data quality. We will study the methodological performance of sensor data from mobile devices regarding the user’s location, environment (noise and light) and activity (movement). We will also focus on the potential of sensor data for tailoring survey procedures and understanding the influence of a survey context on data quality. This will also serve as a proof-of-concept for integrating sensor and survey data for other applications in substantive social science research. The systematic methodological elaboration of mobile web surveys achieved by these project objectives will present a pioneering contribution to the field. It will allow the establishment of comprehensive methodological guidelines and recommendations for the implementation of mobile web surveys in the social sciences. All developed technical solutions will be freely available in the open-source survey application 1KA. The project results are expected to have a profound impact on survey methodology and social science disciplines that benefit from surveying studied participants in various target environments and enrich survey data with location and other sensor data (e.g. sociology of health, spatial sociology, communication and leisure studies). The outcomes will also be relevant for the development of mobile data collection methodologies in commercial research and official statistics. The team from the Faculty of Social Sciences is among the pioneers of web survey methodology and is internationally recognized for its scientific publications, international projects, the central resource of information on web surveys (, and development of the open source survey software 1KA. The project group also includes partners from the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Jožef Stefan Institute, who are among the leading researchers in machine learning and data mining, and the Department of Geography at the Faculty of Arts, who work on location data collection and analysis. We will jointly elaborate the project’s activities and exchange findings with other renowned experts from the University of Michigan, Stanford University, Utrecht University and the leading Slovenian market research company Valicon.

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