Questionnaires and surveys can be conducted through mobile phones which are able to connect to the internet. Mobile phone specific formats and layouts can be programmed into an internet-based survey, so that participants can easily access this type of survey on the go. Additionally, mobile phone specific applications ('apps') can be developed by researchers for their purposes. These apps can be downloaded by participants and the data sent back to the researchers when the phone has access to the internet or cellular data.
The advantages of this type of survey are that it is convenient for participants, who can complete the survey on the go, and can potentially reach a large population, although the population will necessarily be limited to mobile phone owners.
Additionally, this survey type has the potential to include functions unavailable to other methods. For longitudinal data, reminders can be programmed into the app for participants to take the survey at different intervals or at different times of the day. Additional data such as GPS location and local weather can be collected automatically (subject to user agreement) in addition to survey data, as can information about what the participant is doing (such as listening to music through their phone). Apps for smart phones with cameras can also include questions asking participants to take a photo of their current location.
This example of mobile data collection uses an iPhone app to collect data about how the environment affects the moods of participants. Mappiness has been designed to gather data from a wide range longitudinal data from participants remotely. To do this, they've created the app to be easy to use, with simple survey questions using sliding scale and integrating the smart phone's features by giving participants the option to collect additional data by taking photos of their environments. In order to induce participants to take part, they have included in the app a 'happiness tracker' that collates the individuals results into a single graph that participants can view over time.
For more information, see mobile data collection.
For more advice about using this option, see surveys.
Mappiness: A mobile survey tracking how the environment affects people's moods.