Data collection? There is an app for that

I guess it was only a matter of time.

There are apps for virtually any aspect of our personal and professional lines. So, I suppose that it was only a matter of time for a researcher to come up with an app to help with data collection.

The researcher is Dan Ariely, a behavioural economist at Duke University and, among other things, the author of Predictably Irrational. Dan Ariely is not only a prolific researcher but he is also absolutely brilliant in terms of engaging with the public. If you are not doing so, already, I recommend that you follow his podcast ‘Arming the Monkeys’ and his blog. His column ‘Ask Ariely’ is another great example.

The app is called ‘(Sample) Size matters’ and can be downloaded here. It works by sending you prompts to do something, or presenting you a puzzle or question. You enter your answers in the app which, I presume, also captures some sort of user data.

The data is collected by you and feeds into Dan’s research. It seems like a very convenient way of participating in research – certainly less disruptive than answering multiple surveys or going to a lab to participate in an experiment. And, because of that, it should lead to higher participation rates and access to a broader sample (geographically, if not demographically). I am guessing that it is a cheaper and more convenient option of data collection for the research team, too.

So, all in all, this idea seems to be a winner. Who knows?! This could be the future of data collection in research, academic or otherwise.

Would you download an app whose specific purpose was to collect data for research?

2 thoughts on “Data collection? There is an app for that

  1. There is a great little app for gathering ethnographic data (my favourite methodology!). I originally saw it when it was just an iPhone app – as I don’t have any Apple products I never pursued it. Now I notice they have an Android version too… must check this out.


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