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Posts from April 2013

More research on mobile

Regular readers of this blog (if there are any) may have noticed that I have been a social media no-show for the last couple of months.  This was not deliberate; it just sort of happened.  But now I am jumping back in and can’t help but wonder whether this NewMR thing isn’t like an American TV soap opera in that you can miss a whole bunch of episodes without losing track of the story line.

In that vein, I found myself checking out the latest issue of the online journal, Survey Practice.  This journal is an AAPOR invention designed to give an outlet mostly to practitioners without subjecting them to the rigor of preparing a full submission to Public Opinion Quarterly or the new AAPOR journal, Journal of Statistics and Methodology. Which is not to say that Survey Practice is the sort of lightweight fare we too often hear from the conference podium.  It’s not.  There are literature reviews, well-designed experiments, and good solid analyses.

The current issue is a case in point.  There are at least two articles the readers of this blog, especially if you are interesting in mobile, might find worth a read.  One is from some folks at Nielsen and looks at surveys on tablets.  They have some good data to show what many of us probably expect, namely, that when respondents use tablets to complete online surveys there are few ill effects, although the same cannot be said for smartphones.  The second, by a team from Olivetree and SSI, looks at in-the-moment data collection and finds that there can be a sort of Hawthorne effect when respondents are asked to report each time they eat a snack. I’ve not done justice to either of these studies so you should check them out on your own. 

I’ve long felt that innovations in research methods start with MR, going through a sort of entrepreneurial phase in which benefits are claimed and data presented to support the claims, but the “studies” seldom rest on a literature or acknowledge the work of others in the field.  This is followed by better-designed experiments from researchers who may be from MR, but have an academic bent that produces more solid research.  Finally, the academics jump in to bring the empirical and the theoretical together, providing a scientific basis for the new methodology.  We are not there yet with mobile but these two pieces from Survey Practice are starting to move us down that road. 

Whether this description of these two studies have whetted your appetite or not, I strongly recommend that you go to the site and register for alerts as new issues are posted.