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Slider bars in multi-device Web surveys
The rapid pace of the technological developments is challenging survey research. The penetration of Internet-enabled mobile devices has increased tremendously over the last years, and more and more frequently respondents invited to complete a Web survey do so via a mobile device. The analysis of the consequences on data quality of the unintended mobile access to online surveys is, indeed, one of the major challenges for survey methodologists nowadays. Web surveys enable the implementation of new interactive tools, among which slider bars can be placed, that allow exploiting the potential of the Web to allegedly improve measurement. Starting from the fact that the use of these interactive measurement tools is not unproblematic in Web surveys in general, the consequence of using smartphones on measurement using these tools still has to be explored. Two online surveys, collected among students of the University of Trento in 2015 and 2016 (comprising respectively around 6300 and 4200 respondents), contained one experiment each on slider bars. The first one allows investigating the effects of using numeric labels on the slider bar; the second one, instead, allows studying the effects of the initial position of the handle. The device used has been detected via the collection of User Agent Strings and, in one survey, also by a question asking about the device employed. The detection of the device used allows investigating whether the features of the slider bars have a different effect on measurement according to the device. Moreover, we are able to investigate the role of screen size, screen orientation and dominant hand. Preliminary results show that when the handle is placed at the extremes of the slider bar, smartphone users show higher propensity to anchoring, and that there are differences if the movement to be done goes from left to right rather than from right to left. Moreover, the use of numeric labels seems to lead to higher accuracy in responses only on pcs and tablets, while there are no differences in scores on smartphones with or without labels. This paper aims at shedding light on consequences of unintended mobile access on design issues. The contribution is manifold: first, it adds to the literature by bringing new evidences on consequences of unintended mobile access to Web surveys. Second, it contains unique experimental designs that allows investigating peculiar features of slider bars. Moreover, it enables exploring the effects of screen size, screen orientation and dominant hand, information that are rarely available. Understanding to what extent interactive tools such as slider bars can be fruitfully employed in multi-device surveys without affecting data quality is a key challenge for those who want to exploit the potentialities of Web-based data collection without undermining measurement.