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Web Survey Paradata

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Course Information

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Paradata are the data automatically generated when respondents answer Web surveys. There are many different kinds of Web survey paradata, including email tracking tools, user agent strings (to identify devices used), and server-side and client-side paradata providing information on things like response times, mouse-clicks, scrolling behaviour, and so on. This course will provide participants with an overview of the different types of Web paradata, and how they can be collected, managed, and analysed to provide useful information on data quality and nonresponse in Web surveys, leading to design improvements.


The course covers:

  • Different types of Web paradata and their uses
  • Capturing paradata in Web surveys
  • Processing Web survey paradata
  • Analysing paradata


By the end of the course participants will:

  • Understand the varieties and uses of paradata in Web surveys
  • Have the knowledge or tools to collect, process, and analyse paradata
  • Understand how to extract meaning from paradata
    • Introduction and overview
    • What do we mean by paradata: client-side versus server-side paradata
    • Classification of different types of paradata
    • Capturing paradata in Web surveys: conceptual and practical issues
    • How paradata can be used: examples of use
    • Processing Web paradata: concept and practical issues
    • Analysing Web paradata: conceptual and practical issues
    • Combining paradata with other sources of information
    • Using paradata to improve online instruments


    Detailed programme to follow

Course Code


Course Date

7th December 2017

Course Leader

Professor Mick Couper
Course Description

Target Audience


Researchers in government, academia or market research who design, conduct, or evaluate Web surveys or online forms. Familiarity with Web data collection is a plus. Technical knowledge is not required.


Preparatory Reading


Selected recommended background reading:


    • Stern, M.J. (2008), “The Use of Client-Side Paradata in Analyzing the Effects of Visual Layout on Changing Responses in Web Surveys.” Field Methods, 20 (4): 377-398.
    • Heerwegh, D. (2011), “Internet Survey Paradata.” In M. Das, P. Ester, and L. Kaczmirek (eds.), Social Research and the Internet. New York: Taylor and Francis, pp. 325-348.
  • Callegaro, M. (2013), “Paradata in Web Surveys.” In F. Kreuter (Ed.), Improving Surveys with Paradata: Analytic Uses of Process Information. New Work: Wiley, pp. 261-279.

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