Online Program

Tailoring the design of e-questionnaires to the response process: About audit trails and other methods
*Mattijn Morren, Statistics Netherlands 
*Ger Snijkers, Statistics Netherlands 


Data collection using electronic or web questionnaires brings new possibilities to study data quality issues. One approach is audit trails, a type of paradata: event log data showing when and how respondents work on a questionnaire. Audit trails are a rich source of data, and can be used to derive various measures of questionnaire completion, e.g.:

Completion indicators like completion time or number of sessions; Navigation behaviour, like the use of function buttons (e.g., Forward, Backward, Print); Profiles of questionnaire completion; Completion course: when do respondents work on the questionnaire?

These measures can be used to improve the survey design, i.e. the questionnaire and the survey communication strategy, by tailoring these to the response process of the respondent. Research results showing the utility of audit trails will be presented, using the Dutch Annual Structural Business Survey as example.

Audit trails are one way to study the response process. Used in combination with other qualitative and quantitative methods (pre-testing, debriefing, eye-tracking, response and data-editing analysis), we have a good toolkit for evaluating and improving the survey design