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Information Technology in Survey Research

Information Technology in Survey Research
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Author(s): Jernej Berzelak (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)and Vasja Vehovar (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 6
Source title: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch318


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Data collection based on standardized questionnaires represents one of the central tools in many research areas. Early surveys date back to the 18th century (de Leeuw, 2005), while a major breakthrough came in the 1930s with the application of probability samples. By using surveys, today governments monitor conditions in the country, social scientists obtain data on social phenomena and managers direct their business by studying the characteristics of their target customers. The importance of survey research stimulates ongoing efforts to achieve higher data quality and optimized costs. Early on researchers recognized the potential of technological advances for the achievement of these goals. In the early 1970s telephone surveys started replacing expensive face-to-face interviews. Computer technology developments soon enabled computer-assisted telephone interviewing (“CATI”). The 1980s brought new approaches based on personal computers. Interviewers started to use laptops and respondents sometimes completed questionnaires on their own computers. Another revolution occurred with the Internet in the subsequent decade. The pervasive availability of Internet access, and the growing number of Internetsupported devices, coupled with the advance of interactive Web technologies (like Ajax) are facilitating developments in contemporary survey research. Internet surveys show the potential to become the leading survey approach in the future. According to the Council of American Survey Research Organizations (“CASRO”), the Internet already represents the primary data collection mode for 39% of research companies in the USA (DeAngelis, 2006). The rate of adoption is slower in academic and official research but it is far from negligible. These technological innovations have, however, created several new methodological challenges.

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