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Mobile Apps and Sensors in Surveys

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2nd MASS Workshop

Mobile Apps and Sensors in Surveys


Due to Covid-19, the workshop has been rescheduled to 22 and 23 April 2021, and will be organized as a virtual event. The programme of events is published at https://massworkshop.org/voorbeeld-pagina/programme-of-events/

We are looking forward to hosting an on-location workshop again in 2022.


Organizing committee

Peter Lugtig, Bella Struminskaya (Utrecht University), Jan K. Hoehne, Florian Keusch (University of Mannheim)


Date: 22-23 April 2021


Virtually, using Zoom.

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.

This 2-day workshop is jointly organized by the department of Methods and Statistics of Utrecht University and the  Collaborative Research Center: “Political Economy of Reforms” at the University of Mannheim. The workshop itself will be free of charge for participants, but participants are expected to pay for their own travel and hotel costs.


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 first MASS workshop was held at the University of Mannheim in March 2019. A programme, as well as some presentations from this workshop can be found at https://massworkshop.org/2019-workshop-in-mannheim-germany/


For the second MASS workshop, we invite contributions that focus, among others, on the following issues when using mobile apps and sensors in surveys:

  • 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


We encourage submission of work in progress and are particularly interested in studies that used an experimental design to test strategies to collect data using mobile apps and sensors successfully. We are open to both empirical studies as well as descriptions of research data collection infrastructure (front- or backend of an app), or processing of data from apps and sensors.