• Journal Article

Computer audio recording: A practical technology for improving survey quality


Thissen, M., Park, H., & Nguyen, M. (2013). Computer audio recording: A practical technology for improving survey quality. Survey Practice, 6(2).


In interviewer-administered surveys, some aspects of total survey error (Biemer 2010) can be managed through use of computer audio-recorded interviewing (CARI) technology. By addressing faulty question wording or translation, poor reading by the interviewer, mode effects, field data entry errors, item nonresponse and other problems, CARI helps detect, quantify, and control error. It is especially helpful when audio recordings can be matched with response data or screen capture from the interview (Thissen et al. 2010).

In this article, we examine how the use of CARI will reduce or mitigate
errors at each step of conducting an interviewer-mediated survey, and we
provide a description of the CARI system currently deployed at the U.S. Census Bureau. For best value, a complete CARI system consists of:
1. Recording software to collect audio recordings and screen images of the
interviewers’ and respondents’ vocal exchanges during an interview;
2. Transmission, storage and management of the recordings for review;
3. Monitoring system to allow researchers, supervisors, and quality assurance (QA) staff to listen to the recordings at a later time; and
4. Feedback to interviewers and survey designers for quality improvement.