Paradata in Survey Research

The term paradata refers to auxiliary data collected in a survey that describe the data collection process (Beaumont 2005; Couper 1998; Couper and Lyberg 2005; Kreuter and Casas-Cordero 2010; Kreuter et al. 2010a). Common examples include the number of calls made to a case, or interview duration. The technology available to today’s survey researcher has enabled the collection of large volumes of paradata in a nearly passive manner. Given this widespread collection of paradata, there are many research areas emerging that could inform both the collection of paradata and paradata-driven innovations for years to come. Motivated by a roundtable discussion at the 2011 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) and a recent Survey Practice article on this topic (Lynn and Nicolaas 2010), this article reviews types of paradata, different ways that paradata are currently being used in practice, quality issues concerning paradata, and directions for future research.