Event-triggered data collection
Understanding Society provides high quality longitudinal data on topics such as health, work, education, income, family and social life – by interviewing sample members annually.
The aim of this project is to develop new methods to collect data about life events throughout the year – referred to as “event-triggered data collection”. This will allow us to collect new and more accurate content that would be difficult or impossible for respondents to report retrospectively in the annual interviews. For example, participants who have recently experienced a life event – baby, job change, partnership change – will be asked about immediate plans, expectations and wellbeing. This will include seeking information from participants, who perhaps because of the life events, may be less likely to take part in the next annual interview.
The design of event-triggered data collection materials and protocols is informed by findings from qualitative research with Understanding Society sample members:
- Horsley, Beninger, Day, Dhillon, Jäckle, Burton and Couper (2019) The acceptability and feasibility of asking monthly “life-event” questions in between waves of a panel study, Understanding Society Working Paper 2019-06. Colchester: University of Essex.
This report summarizes key findings from the qualitative research, as well as prototype protocols for event-triggered data collection and findings from initial experimental testing of how to ask about monthly events:
- Jäckle, Burton and Couper (2019) Event-triggered Data Collection, Understanding Society Working Paper 2019-16. Colchester: University of Essex.
In a first step, we commissioned Kantar to conduct an online forum and focus group with Understanding Society participants to explore: 1. How best to capture information on life events that do (or do not) happen between panel interviews, to enable in-depth follow-up questions, and 2. Under which conditions sample members would be willing to report on life events every month. The study involved 42 participants across an online forum and focus group. Participants were recruited from the Understanding Society Innovation Panel. Findings from this study are being used to inform the design of event-triggered data collection materials and protocols. The report by Horsley et al (2019) is available here.
We then contracted NatCen Social Research to collect experimental survey data, using the NatCen probability panel, to test two aspects of the prototype protocols for event-triggered data collection: 1) how best to word the monthly events question, and 2) how best to invite sample members to this events question. Findings are discussed in the report by Jäckle, Burton and Couper (2019) available here.
We are currently preparing to test protocols for event-triggered data collection on the Understanding Society Innovation Panel.
Professor of Survey Methodology - ISER, University of Essex
Director of Understanding Society - ISER, University of Essex
Associate Director, Surveys - ISER, University of Essex
Research Professor - Survey Research Centre, University of Michigan
Senior Research Officer - ISER, University of Essex