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What is the Best Data Collection Method: CATI, CAPI, PAPI, or CAWI?

The most commonly used research methods for collecting data are CATI, CAPI, CAWI, and PAPI. Even though these methods have very similar names and are referred to together, in practice they are all different, have unique characteristics, and have different approaches. In this blog, we will highlight the essential differences, as well as the pros and cons.

  • PAPI – Pen and Paper Interview

PAPI is the first method of gathering information before new technology came along the way. PAPI surveys are collected with Pen Paper rather than any other electronic devices. Many people believe that pen-and-paper surveys are thing of the past. But when it comes to field research and data collection PAPI is quite handy and they bring high results.

  • Advantages of PAPI

  • The PAPI method requires no technical expertise to implement, and also it’s very flexible in designing the surveys

  • PAPI surveys can be easily repeated on a small scale. They are ideal for data collection pilots.

  • With Pen and Paper surveys, you will be able to collect more responses because you won’t be limited to computers or tablets.

  • Disadvantages of PAPI

  • The main disadvantage of PAPI is the manual data entry, this is time-consuming. Also, the chances of human error are much higher.

  • CAPI – Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing

The CAPI Interviewing method is in-person or face-to-face interviewing. The interviewer can record the answers on a laptop or tablet. Also, the interviewer can ask clarifying questions, and follow-up questions in order to get more accurate answers. It’s generally improved from the old pen-and-paper interviewing also known as PAPI because it reduces the number of human errors, and also enables more secure data storage. The CAPI survey method supports both qualitative and quantitive research types. Considering CAPI is face-to-face it can reach anyone, especially in remote locations where there is no connection to a phone or internet. Although CAPI Interviewers have to be trained in survey administration and also need to travel to every household they will need to interview.

  • Advantages of CAPI

  • It can reach any location, any household even one without an internet or phone connection

  • It allows interviewers to get more data through follow-up questions.

  • Reduces the human errors compared to pen and paper

  • Disadvantages of CAPI

  • The Interviewers need to have proper training in survey administration

  • This is time costly due to training the interviewers and the time spend to collect the data

  • Traveling into rural areas from one home to another will take a lot of time

  • CATI – Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing

CATI is a telephone interview where trained interviewers call the respondent’s phone numbers usually from a call center. CATI surveys are similar to CAPI, with the only difference is CAPI are face-to-face and CATI are over the phone. CATI also allows secure data recording and avoids manual human errors. CATI also supports both qualitative and quantitative survey questions. CATI is much faster compared with CAPI and less expensive. The interviewers don’t need to travel from one location to another.

  • Advantages of CATI

  • Allows the interviewers to collect accurate real-time data.

  • Securely stores data

  • Reaches a broad segment of the population, without the need to travel

  • The interviewers can schedule a call back with the respondents.

  • Disadvantages of CATI

  • The interviewers need to be trained in order to conduct the surveys

  • It can’t reach the lowest-income population due to no internet or telephone connection

CAWI – Computer Assisted Web Interviewing CAWI is another method for online surveys. The surveys can be conducted through the browser or mobile application. The CAWI surveys will be sent to the respondents via email, SMS message, advertisement, etc. It supports open-ended and close-ended questions. CAWI does not need trained interviewers, and the surveys can be distributed widely. Although this method is limited to a population that doesn’t have internet access or does not use one, like the elderly population. CAWI Surveys depend on the respondent to fill out the survey accurately without any guidance. And that’s why they must be easy to use, understandable, and not too long.

  • Advantages of CAWI

  • They are simple to set up and use

  • They don’t need trained interviewers to conduct the surveys

  • CAWI is fast and very affordable to use

  • Disadvantages of CAWI

  • They can only reach the literate population and the ones with the Internet access

  • Qualitative data collection is very limited compared to CATI

  • Questionnaires must be short in order to get higher rates.

To summarize it. All of the 4 methods have their own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the type of research you need to conduct, you can choose the right method for you. If you have any doubts contact us for a brief conversation, and we would gladly listen to your requirements and advise you accordingly.


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