Is it a good idea to optimise question format for mode of data collection? Results from a mixed modes experiment

Publication type

ISER Working Paper Series

Series Number



ISER Working Paper Series


Publication date

December 9, 2011


It is common practice to adapt the format of a
question to the mode of data collection. Multi-coded questions in
self-completion and face-to-face modes tend to be transformed for telephone
into a series of ’yes/no’ questions. Questions with response scales are often
branched in telephone interviews, that is, converted into two or more
questions, each with shorter response lists. There has been limited research
into the impact of these format differences on measurement, particularly across
modes. We analyse data from an experiment that contrasted these question
formats in face-to-face, telephone and web surveys. The study also included a
cognitive interviewing follow-up to further explore the quantitative findings.


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