Concerns and Willingness to Use Smartphones for Data Collection

Project Description

Smartphone use is on the rise worldwide, and researchers are exploring novel ways to leverage the capabilities of smartphones for data collection. Mobile surveys, i.e., surveys that are filled out on a smartphone web browser or through an app, are already extensively studied. Research on the use of other features of smartphones that allow researchers to automatically measure an even broader set of characteristics and behaviors of users that go far beyond the collection of mere self-reports is still in its infancy. For example, smartphone users can now be asked to take pictures of receipts to better measure expenditure, to agree to tracking of movements to create exact measures of mobility and transportation or to automatically log app use, Internet searches, and phone calling and text messaging behavior to measure social interaction. These forms of data collection provide richer data (because it can be collected in much higher frequencies compared to self-reports) and have the potential to decrease respondent burden (because fewer survey questions need to be asked) and measurement error (because of reduction in recall errors and social desirability). However, agreeing to engage in these forms of data collection from smartphones is an additional step in the consent process, and participants might feel uncomfortable sharing specific data with researchers due to security, privacy, and confidentiality concerns. Moreover, users might have differential concerns with different types of data collection on smartphones, and thus be more willing to engage in some of these data collection tasks than in others. In addition, participants might differ in their skills of smartphone use and thus feel more or less comfortable using smartphones for research, leading to bias due to differential nonparticipation of specific subgroups. In a series of studies, we measure concerns and willingness when it comes to participation in smartphone data collection.


  • Keusch, F., Struminskaya, B., Kreuter, F. & Weichbold, M. (2020). Combining active and passive mobile data collection : A survey of concerns. In C. A. Hill (eds.), Big data meets survey science : a collection of innovative methods (S. 657–682). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Struminskaya, B. & Keusch, F. (2020). Editorial: From web surveys to mobile web to apps, sensors, and digital traces. Survey Methods : Insights from the Field, 2020(10/12/20), 1–7.
  • Struminskaya, B., Lugtig, P., Keusch, F. & Höhne, J. K. (2020). Augmenting surveys with data from sensors and apps: Opportunities and challenges. Social Science Computer Review : SSCORE.
  • Keusch, F., Struminskaya, B., Antoun, C., Couper, M. P. & Kreuter, F. (2019). Willingness to participate in passive mobile data collection. Public Opinion Quarterly : POQ, 83(S1), 210–235.