To read this content please select one of the options below:

Data quality comparison between computers and smartphones in different web survey modes and question formats

Louisa Ha (School of Media and Communication, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA)
Chenjie Zhang (School of Media, Film and Television, Jiangsu Normal University, Xuzhou, China)
Weiwei Jiang (School of Journalism and Communication, Shanghai International Studies University, Shanghai, China)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 14 July 2020

Issue publication date: 24 October 2020




Low response rates in web surveys and the use of different devices in entering web survey responses are the two main challenges to response quality of web surveys. The purpose of this study is to compare the effects of using interviewers to recruit participants in computer-assisted self-administered interviews (CASI) vs computer-assisted personal interviews (CAPI) and smartphones vs computers on participation rate and web survey response quality.


Two field experiments using two similar media use studies on US college students were conducted to compare response quality in different survey modes and response devices.


Response quality of computer entry was better than smartphone entry in both studies for open-ended and closed-ended question formats. Device effect was only significant on overall completion rate when interviewers were present.

Practical implications

Survey researchers are given guidance how to conduct online surveys using different devices and choice of question format to maximize survey response quality. The benefits and limitations of using an interviewer to recruit participants and smartphones as web survey response devices are discussed.

Social implications

It shows how computer-assisted self-interviews and smartphones can improve response quality and participation for underprivileged groups.


This is the first study to compare response quality in different question formats between CASI, e-mailed delivered online surveys and CAPI. It demonstrates the importance of human factor in creating sense of obligation to improve response quality.



An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Information and Telecommunications Education and Research Association (ITERA) conference, Louisville, Kentucky, USA, April 8–10, 2016 and included in its conference proceedings CD.The manuscript has been modified substantially from the earlier conference paper version with more than 30% new materials including more updated references, reconceptualization and reorganization of the paper, revised hypotheses, new insights and applications, new data analysis and interpretation, a new figure and revised tables.


Ha, L., Zhang, C. and Jiang, W. (2020), "Data quality comparison between computers and smartphones in different web survey modes and question formats", Internet Research, Vol. 30 No. 6, pp. 1763-1781.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles