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Informed Consent for Web Paradata Use

Publication Abstract

Couper, Mick P., and Eleanor Singer. 2013. "Informed Consent for Web Paradata Use." Survey Research Methods, 7(1): 57-67.

Survey researchers are making increasing use of paradata - such as keystrokes, clicks, and timestamps - to evaluate and improve survey instruments but also to understand respondents and how they answer surveys. Since the introduction of paradata, researchers have been asking whether and how respondents should be informed about the capture and use of their paradata while completing a survey. In a series of three vignette-based experiments, we examine alternative ways of informing respondents about capture of paradata and seeking consent for their use. In all three experiments, any mention of paradata lowers stated willingness to participate in the hypothetical surveys. Even the condition where respondents were asked to consent to the use of paradata at the end of an actual survey resulted in a significant proportion declining. Our research shows that requiring such explicit consent may reduce survey participation without adequately informing survey respondents about what paradata are and why they are being used.

PMCID: PMC3790572. (Pub Med Central)

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