3.1.3 Incorporating Technological Advances into the Survey Experience

Complete network designs like Add Health have readily adapted technological innovations (e.g., Audio computer-assisted self-interviewing–ACASI) to automate the encoding of responses (as for portions of the in-home survey for Add Health, ), provide additional privacy on sensitive data (Helleringer et al. 2009), or simply to improve the experience of the interview potentially reducing non-responses and respondent fatigue (Bowling 2005).

Most research settings require additional case-specific design considerations to optimize their success. The Prison Inmate Networks Study (PINS) describes a few of these additional layers for successful design implementation when gathering network data from those who are currently incarcerated or were recently released (Whichard, Wakefield, and Kreager, n.d.). They found through a pilot study that it was important to precede their quantitative survey with a qualitative interview component that allowed the researchers to develop rapport with respondents that subsequently afforded more thorough responses to survey, especially network, questions (Kreager et al. 2016). The focal “gets along with” network relationship analyzed in this work is not particularly sensitive in nature, and may even be considered publicly observable by the other inmates (Schaefer et al. 2017). Despite this, and given norms against “snitching” among the inmates, they found both that having the interviewers socially distance themselves from the prison staff, and administering the survey elements via ACASI improved participation (Whichard, Wakefield, and Kreager, n.d.).