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Title Survey participation via mobile devices in a probability-based online-panel: Prevalence, determinants, and implications for nonresponse
Workshop Workshop 2014
Year 2014

Purpose of the study: (a) to estimate the prevalence rate of mobile devices in web-based surveys designed for computer participation, in Germany; (b) to examine to what extent the use of smartphones and tablets is related to break-offs; (c) to explore if any characteristics of respondents is associated to persistence in the use of mobile devices along different waves of a panel. Design/methodology/approach: The analysis is based on data from a probabilistic panel representative of German adult Internet users, the GESIS Online Panel Pilot (GOPP). The first two research questions were addressed using a pooled cross-sectional analysis, considering individuals who started participating the eight waves. The third question was addressed selecting the ones who have started all the eight surveys. We have described the device pattern of use and modelled the number of times mobile devices were used. Findings: Prevalence rate of mobile devices is estimated at about 4 % level in the final GOPP waves. However, when adopting a longitudinal perspective, about 8 % of the respondents used a mobile device in at least one of the eight waves. Our study corroborates previous evidences on the use of smartphones being associated with higher break-off rate: it is tripled when compared to the corresponding rate for computer use. This risk is not associated with the use of tablets. We distinguished different patterns in the use of mobile devices along the eight waves. We found that about 2 % of respondents are ‘mobile-only’ respondents. Finally, we found no systematic evidence on socio-demographic influencing persistence in the use of mobile devices along the eight waves. Originality/value: The study was developed on a probabilistic sample and its estimates better represent the German Internet population. Further evidence has been provided on the problem of higher break-off rate being associated with smartphones but not tablets.
Taking advantage of available longitudinal data, we explored regularity in the use of mobile devices in an online panel study, which is something new in methodological literature.
Research limitations/implications: The longitudinal analysis is only explorative, due to data limitations. Practical implications: Unintended use of mobile devices in online panels is not negligible. We have provided further evidence for (a) smartphone users being more likely to break-off. Previous research in the field focused on the cross-sectional implications. Our study raises two interesting issues, in a longitudinal perspective: (b) a not negligible share of consistent ‘mobile-only’ respondents exists; (c) the portion of occasional mobile device users, along different waves of a panel, is larger than what observed in a cross-sectional survey.


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