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Posts from May 2012

Truth in texting

I admit that I've never been much of a fan of SMS surveys. Too many limitations to do anything meaningful. Once Nathan Eagle started showing up at conferences and talking about his experiences with SMS in developing countries, especially in Africa, I could see a niche. That is, if you can call accessing two billion people a niche.

Last week someone sent me this little news item about a study by two academics, Fred Conrad and Michael Schober (I've collaborated with these guys on some unrelated work), that suggests one can collect some pretty good quality data via text. TextingShopper While you can't collect a lot they found that respondents were generally honest (no sign of social desirability bias on sensitive questions), showed little evidence of satisficing and exhibited few signs of heaping, that is, giving round numbers (typically numbers divisible by 5) when asked to report specific counts such as the number of movies they saw in the last month.

Given the kind of research that dominates MR I still believe that mobile ultimately depends on the continued growth in smartphone use. But whether via smartphone or good old-fashioned feature phone, feedback by text message may not be dead yet.

AAPOR catches the wave

I’ve been going to the AAPOR Annual Conference for more years than I can count.  The last several have been like trips back in time.  While web survey design was often discussed the the new and rapidly-evolving methodologies that occupy MR conferences were seldom acknowledged in any meaningful way.  Or, if acknowledged hardly welcomed.   But this conference was dramatically different.  There were five sessions on mobile, another four on various aspects of social media and three sessions on non-probability sampling including a plenary noticeably absent the fireworks that have accompanied similar discussions in years past.  There was even a session on gamification!

I think this is a really important development.  As new methods move front and center with this group of researchers we can expect our understanding of them to deepen and the methods themselves to become more robust.  Kudos to conference chair Dan Merkle for a job well done.