1504.0 - Methodological News, Sep 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/09/2009   
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Development of Standards for Computer Assisted Self Interviewing

The Data Collection Methodology (DCM) section in MDMD has recently developed standards for Computer Assisted Self Interviewing (CASI) and Audio Computer Assisted Self Interviewing (ACASI). CASI is a mode of data collection that involves the respondent recording their responses to survey questions provided by a computer, on the computer. ACASI is a related mode of data collection that involves the respondent listening to questions through headphones, and recording answers via the computer interface.

These data collection modes have a number of benefits for gaining more accurate data from special populations, such as children and those with poor literacy. CASI enables children to engage with the survey through interactive graphics and audio facilities. For those with limited literacy, ACASI allows respondents to listen to the questions, and use a microphone to record answers without the assistance of the interviewer.

These modes can be beneficial for asking questions on sensitive topics, because they ensure a level of privacy that face-to-face interviewing does not have. CASI and ACASI have been used internationally for researching sensitive topics such as drug use, sexual behaviour and personal health issues. Due to their capacity to ensure a high level of privacy and minimise the effects of social desirability, the use of these modes can reduce the level of non-response or inaccurate information elicited. Consequently, this has the potential to reduce non-sampling error and improve data quality.

DCM's CASI/ACASI standards were developed as a result of reviewing international research and literature on innovative and best practice CASI/ACASI approaches. It is likely that the standards will continue to evolve based on future ABS experience in CASI/ACASI. Some of the key topics covered in the standards include design and layout, functionality, recorded voice guidelines, the interviewer's role in the process and guidelines for interviewing children through CASI/ACASI.

DCM's research into CASI/ACASI also has implications for other areas of our work. Through our research we have become more cognisant of the issues surrounding electronic modes of data collection in general, thus giving us greater insight into the design of best practice web forms for household surveys. For more information, contact Chloe Groves on 03 9615 7477 or chloe.groves@abs.gov.au.