Mobile Apps and Sensors in Surveys

2023 workshop latest information


22-23 June 2023


University of Manchester, UK (on-location only)


Organizing committee

Alexandru Cernat (University of Manchester), Bella Struminskaya, Peter Lugtig (Utrecht University), Florian Keusch (University of Mannheim), Jan Karem Höhne (University of Duisburg-Essen)

Context of the workshop

Augmenting survey data with data collected from mobile apps, sensors, and wearables allows researchers to better explore and understand social reality, further develop research methods, and scale laboratory experiments. The number of studies that utilize the features built into smartphones and other wearable devices to study human behavior and interaction has grown in recent years. Passive mobile data collection using sensors allows researchers to collect data at a rate and detail that is not possible with traditional survey methods. However, incorporating sensor measurements to augment or replace survey questions through sensors and apps creates methodological challenges around 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 researchers from the Social Statistics department at the University of Manchester, the Department of Methodology and Statistics at Utrecht University, the Professorship for Social Data Science and Methodology at the University of Mannheim, and the Department of Political Science at the University of Duisburg-Essen. This year the workshop is supported by the Hallsworth Conference fund at the University of Manchester. The workshop is free of charge for participants, but participants are expected to cover their own travel and lodging costs.


The goal of this workshop is to bring together researchers from different disciplines to discuss the current state of their research on the use of mobile apps, sensors, and wearables in survey data collection. The workshop is only open to participants whose abstracts will be accepted for a paper presentation.


Three previous MASS workshops were held at the University of Mannheim (2019), virtually (2021), and at Utrecht University (2022). The program as well as some presentations from these earlier workshops can be found at


For the 4th MASS workshop, we invite contributions that focus, among others, on the following methodological issues when using mobile apps, sensors, and wearables in surveys:

  • Technical aspects of mobile apps, sensors, and wearables
    • Different ways to collect sensor, app, and wearable 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, ethical, and privacy considerations
    • Data handling
  • Quality of data from mobile apps, sensors, and wearables
    • Errors of non-representation (self-selection, coverage, and nonparticipation)
    • Measurement error (prevention, modeling, and correction)
    • Validity of measurements with mobile apps, sensors, and wearables
  • Data analysis
    • Analysis of sensor data
    • Combining survey data with data from mobile apps, sensors, and wearables


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

We are happy to announce two keynote speakers at MASS23:

  1. Kathleen Cagney, Ph.D., Director of the Institute for Social Research and Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan and
  2. Helen Nissenbaum, Ph.d, professor of Information Science at Cornell Tech


Submission process and timeline

Please submit your abstract for the workshop to The abstract should contain a research question, data collection procedures (e.g., a description of the app), and results, if available. If results are not available yet, the abstract should outline the type of analyses that will be presented at the workshop.

Participation in the workshop is only possible when an abstract is accepted for the workshop. We will aim for a representation of diverse topics, methodological approaches, and research groups.


  • 28 February 2023: Deadline for abstract submission.
  • 31 March 2023: Feedback on acceptance will be provided.
  • 7 June 2023: Deadline for handout submission – all participants will be required to submit a 6-page handout presenting context, screenshots, tables, or other supporting materials for the workshop. All participants are expected to read all handouts before coming to the workshop.
  • 22-23 June 2023: MASS Workshop