Cellular phones as a survey research tool to measure the experience and perception of corruption
Topic: Use of cell phones as survey research tool to measure corruption
University Involved: Columbia University
Students Involved: 1
Transparency International Chapter Involved: Transparency International Secretariat
Key Findings: According to the analysis, the introduction of cell phones in TI's research strategies could operate at two different levels: first, it could enhance the existing perception-based tools by improving the coverage of surveys relying on telephone interviews; second, it could complement the strategies developed by national chapters by providing low-cost tools to conduct perception-based surveys in sub-national and local contexts. With this distinction in mind, the following recommendations are advanced:
- Start introducing dual samples in surveys relying on telephone interview.
The TI Secretariat should consider the gradual introduction of samples containing cell phones and landlines in those countries in which the surveys are administered mainly through telephone interviews. This would entail the elaboration of feasibility studies that should take into account the specificities of the country, such as the market penetration of cell phones in relation to fixed lines, geographic patterns of mobile phone use and existing available options to have access to lists of cell phones numbers in order to obtain the sample.
- Encourage TI National Chapters to launch pilot projects using mobile phones to measure corruption.
The policy and research department of the TI Secretariat should partner with national chapters to in order to develop mobile surveys-based initiatives to measure corruption locally or regionally, depending of the geographic area and the population covered. This would require the implementation of pilot projects using open-source solutions and mobile phones to collect information at the sub-national level.
- Conduct further research on mobile phones and corruption measurement:
Finally, the TI Secretariat should also promote further research on the use of cell phones in corruption measurement. While this report has focused mostly on the methodological and practical implications of using mobile phones in survey research, there are many dimensions of the question that still need to be addressed, like for instance, the possible limitations derived from conducting mobile phone surveys in repressive or semi-repressive environments or the response of public authorities to the development of citizen-reporting initiatives focusing on corruption: