• Presentation

Evolution of Audio Recording in Field Surveys


Thissen, R., Sattaluri, S., McFarlane, E. S., & Biemer, P. (2007, May). Evolution of Audio Recording in Field Surveys. Presented at American Association for Public Opinion Research Conference, Anaheim, CA.


The tools of field survey administration change quickly. By taking advantage of new technology and adapting it for time-honored needs, survey managers can boost the effectiveness, efficiency and quality of data collection. One method which has evolved rapidly is computer audio-recorded interviewing (CARI), an approach to ensuring the quality of data through unobtrusive recording by the computer of the audio portion of inperson interviews, much as silent monitoring has been used to ensure quality at call centers.Several developments in the past few years have improved the technical feasibility of CARI for routine and inexpensive use in field studies. Advances in file compression and available bandwidth enable collection of longer recordings with little strain on transmission capacity and no burden to the interviewer. Use of a simple external file for specifying items to be recorded in a Blaise instrument offers great flexibility in selecting portions of the interview for auditing, even permitting modification of the recorded-item list while an instrument is in production. A web-based monitoring application, for use by trained reviewers in evaluating the audio files, can now provide access to centrally located audio files by geographically distributed staff.Progress has also been made from an operational viewpoint. Work has been done to determine the minimum amount of recording needed to achieve agreement among reviewers as to the authenticity of the recorded session, and cost modeling shows that CARI can provide quality assurance at equal or reduced costs compared to more traditional approaches of re-interview or telephone verification.Use of CARI on several national surveys has provided production experience to bolster laboratory tests. This article reviews the progress of CARI technology in the years since it was introduced, with an emphasis on feasibility for routine use with field surveys.