1504.0 - Methodological News, Mar 2011  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/03/2011   
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Computer Audio Recorded Interviewing (CARI) Being Trialled as a Questionnaire Development Tool

The ABS widely uses Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) in the field to collect household survey data effectively and securely. Recent Blaise software developments now allow predetermined questions of the interview to be audio recorded on to the interviewer’s laptop, without disturbing the interview process. This new feature is referred to as Computer Audio Recorded Interviewing (CARI) and gives methodologists and survey developers new evidence about how the questionnaire performs in the field.

Recordings of the verbal interactions between the interviewer and respondent are highly valuable, providing researchers with proof of pauses, interruptions, requests for clarification etc from respondents in the context of a real interview. Such naturalistic evidence complements the information gathered during Cognitive Interviewing, where questions are typically evaluated using a more artificial "laboratory" environment.

During analysis of CARI recordings, the research team uses behaviour coding to check off the number and type of deviations from the ideal question and answer format which may indicate problems with questions, across a sample of questions for each interview conducted. For example, it may become apparent that respondents are having difficulty comprehending questions, by asking the interviewer for clarification or providing irrelevant or incorrect responses. Survey developers can then make changes to the instrument based on this information to improve the accuracy and validity of the data being collected. Furthermore, evidence from CARI can be used to hone methodologists' understanding of sources of measurement errors and biases, reducing development time and increasing the quality of future questionnaires.

The ABS is currently trialling CARI, and recently used it in a dress rehearsal. With the respondents’ consent, parts of the interview were recorded and stored confidentially. Ten predetermined questions were carefully decided upon to be recorded. Included were both new questions, and older questions that had a problematic history, in order to gain further evidence on their performance. Analysis of these recordings provided highly useful information, which assisted in the development and revision of these questions.

For more information about CARI as a questionnaire development tool, please contact Kate Wittman on (02) 6252 7649 or kate.wittman@abs.gov.au.