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Do online access panels need to adapt surveys for mobile devices?

Melanie Revilla (RECSM, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain)
Daniele Toninelli (Department of Management, Economics and Quantitative Methods, University of Bergamo, Bergamo, Italy)
Carlos Ochoa (Netquest, Barcelona, Spain)
Germán Loewe (Netquest, Barcelona, Spain)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 3 October 2016




Despite the quick spread of the use of mobile devices in survey participation, there is still little knowledge about the potentialities and challenges that arise from this increase. The purpose of this paper is to study how respondents’ preferences drive their choice of a certain device when participating in surveys. Furthermore, this paper evaluates the tolerance of participants when specifically asked to use mobile devices and carry out other specific tasks, such as taking photographs.


Data were collected by surveys in Spain, Portugal and Latin America by Netquest, an online fieldwork company.


Netquest panellists still mainly preferred to participate in surveys using personal computers. Nevertheless, the use of tablets and smartphones in surveys showed an increasing trend; more panellists would prefer mobile devices, if the questionnaires were adapted to them. Most respondents were not opposed to the idea of participating in tasks such as taking photographs or sharing GPS information.

Research limitations/implications

The research concerns an opt-in online panel that covers a specific area. For probability-based panels and other areas the findings may be different.

Practical implications

The findings show that online access panels need to adapt their surveys to mobile devices to satisfy the increasing demand from respondents. This will also allow new, and potentially very interesting data collection methods.


This study contributes to survey methodology with updated findings focusing on a currently underexplored area. Furthermore, it provides commercial online panels with useful information to determine their future strategies.



The authors are very grateful to Netquest for providing the authors the necessary data, and to the University of Bergamo (this research, our collaboration and meetings have been partially supported by the 60 per cent University funds). The authors would also like to acknowledge the contribution of WEBDATANET, a European network for web‐based data collection (COST Action IS1004, that gave birth to and encourage to develop this collaboration.


Revilla, M., Toninelli, D., Ochoa, C. and Loewe, G. (2016), "Do online access panels need to adapt surveys for mobile devices?", Internet Research, Vol. 26 No. 5, pp. 1209-1227.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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