Mobile Apps and Sensors in Surveys

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The Mobile Apps and Sensors in Surveys (MASS) is a series of workshops organized about once a year

The next workshop will be organized in spring/summer 2025. More information will follow in summer 2024


Presentations for the 2024 workshop, 2023 workshop, 2022 workshop2021 workshop and  2019 workshop can also be found here. Videos from several 2023 and 2024 presentations are available on our Youtube channel


Context of the workshop

Mobile devices allow researchers to collect data through built-in sensors such as GPS and accelerometers to study movement, passively collect data in-browser, or using apps in addition to self-report. Such data can include browsing history and smartphone and app usage. Passive mobile data collection can potentially decrease measurement errors and reduce respondent burden. Active data collection using apps, camera, microphone, or other sensors allows researchers to broaden the research questions they want to study. Incorporating sensor measurements to augment or replace survey questions through sensors and apps brings challenges for representativeness, survey design and implementation, measurement, as well as ethical and legal considerations that are yet to be understood.

The goal of this workshop is to bring together around 40 researchers from different disciplines to discuss the current state of their work on the use of mobile apps and sensors in survey data collection. The workshop is only open to people who are presenting a paper.

The workshop focuses on the following issues when using mobile apps and sensors in surveys in particular:

  • Technical aspects of mobile apps and sensors
    • Different ways to collect sensor data
    • Building apps for Android and iOS
    • Data processing and storage
  • Study and app design
    • Look and feel of apps
    • Usability studies
    • Use of incentives
    • Giving feedback to respondents
  • Implementation
    • Willingness to participate and consent
    • Methods to invite and communicate with study participants
    • Study length and study intensity
    • Legal considerations
    • Ethical and privacy considerations
  • Data quality of sensor data
    • Errors of non-representation (self-selection, coverage, nonparticipation)
    • Measurement error (prevention, modeling and correction)
  • Data analysis
    • Analysing sensor data
    • Combining survey and sensor data

If you want to get an idea of the kinds of research that is presented, you can also have a look at our youtube channel or the special issue which was published with contributions of the 2019 workshop.

  • Struminskaya B, Lugtig P, Keusch F, Höhne JK. (2020) Augmenting Surveys With Data From Sensors and Apps: Opportunities and Challenges. Social Science Computer Review. doi:10.1177/0894439320979951