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Surveys and Other Sources of Data

Linking surveys and other sources of data is not a new idea. This has been around for a long time. It's useful in many situations. For example, when respondents would have a difficult time supplying the information (for example, exact income information).

Much of the previous research on linkage has focused on either the ability to link data, possibly in a probabilistic fashion; or there have been examinations of biases associated with the willingness to consent to linkage.

It seems that new questions are emerging with the pervasiveness of data generated by devices, especially smart phones. I read an interesting article by Melanie Revilla and colleagues about trying to collect data from a tracking application that people install on their devices. They examine how the "meter" as they call the application might be incompletely covering the sample. For example, persons might have multiple devices and only install it on some of them. Or, persons might share devices and not install them on those shared devices. The application collects URLs. The authors found that these were difficult to analyze. For example, it's difficult to know if the person was shopping without more complicated decomposition of the URL.

These new data are presenting new challenges. Working through them will take time and effort. These challenges may also require that we develop new skills. Still, it is an interesting time to be working on surveys.

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