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Electronic Questionnaire Device

A report has been published on the European Social Survey (ESS) website about the experience of using an Electronic Questionnaire Device during the pandemic.

As a result of measures implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in many countries, face-to-face data collection by interviewers was not possible.

In order to prepare for a future where off-line respondents need to complete a survey via digital means, the Electronic Questionnaire Device (EQD) was developed to collect survey data without an interviewer asking the questions.

Funded by the ESS ERIC, we adapted an existing tablet in such a way that respondents who were unable or unwilling to complete a web or postal survey could still answer the ESS.

Respondents received the tablet from a fieldworker on the doorstep and were able to enter their answers into the tablet themselves.

The device was designed to ensure it could be used by those with little or no experience with using computers or smartphones.

In addition, the data was captured in offline mode to ensure the ESS EQD could be used without being connected to the internet.

The ESS worked with NatCen Social Research in the UK and CentERdata in the Netherlands to develop the prototype that was tested.

Following initial usability testing in the Netherlands and Slovenia, acceptance testing was conducted in Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, and the UK. Both sets of testing were with quite small non-probability samples.

The report - European Social Survey Electronic Questionnaire Device: Acceptance testing - was produced by NatCen and provides some encouraging results.

The authors - Jo d’Ardenne, Debbie Collins, Natasha Phillips, Sierra Mesplie-Cowan, Emma Berteen and Olivia Sexton - found that the study demonstrated a ‘proof of concept’.

They concluded that the EQD is useful for reaching those with no internet connection and/or respondents who have limited experience in using the internet.

They did, however, warn that consideration needs to be given as to whether assistance should be given to those unable to operate the device independently or whether it should be a self-completion device only.

The report also suggested that further testing is required to establish how well the ESS EQD can be integrated by fieldwork agencies as part of large-scale fieldwork using probability samples.

The report stated: “Further work would be beneficial to establish whether the ESS EQD or paper alternatives would be better if the ESS adopts online data collection in the future.”

Read the report: European Social Survey Electronic Questionnaire Device: Acceptance testing

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