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Seeking help to do a short study on the gendered impact of COVID-19 on women workers in the informal sector

Dear All,

We, a group of researchers at Institute of Social Studies Trust ( ISST). 

We are thinking to do a short and quick telephonic survey to assess the gendered impact of Covid-19 on women workers in the informal sector. We are concerned and careful that given the current turmoil we would not be able to probe the respondents too much and we would have to be judicious in claiming their time. Hence, we would have to be very careful in designing the survey tool, keeping it as short and focused as possible. So we were thinking if anyone could help us with any literature on the methodology of telephonic surveys or if we could learn from your experiences in case you have been doing similar studies. Looking forward to hear on this.

Thank you!  

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Hi Rituu,

J-PAL has put together some helpful resources on using/transitioning to phone surveys here:

Hope this helps and look forward to the findings, if possible.


Anna Rego

J-PAL South Assia

Thanks Rituji,

For sharing information on the Linkedin. Sometime back, I drafted a phone interview guidance note, which I shared with Rituji separately. As per her suggestion, I'm sharing herewith as well.


Basan Shrestha, Nepal


Hi ISST Team,

I work with Ipsos which is a global research organisation. We do surveys to capture citizens' opinions, perceptions, and experiences. We use range of methods for data collection including telephone surveys. I would be happy to discuss this further and share our experience of doing telephone surveys on sensitive topics. My email id is




Thank you for the  request. I have experience in conducting telephone surveys on sensitive subject. One key issue is that it is important to have a key person on the ground, who understand your work, and also you may consider language issues - you may need a translator on the other side.  

`I will be glad to share my experiences my e-mail is

Your Sincerely

Pandu Hailonga-van Dijk


Depending on the literacy levels, or how technologically adept the respondents are , you can also try self administered surveys. You can send them links on Whatsapp (if they have an account) where you can ask them to fill a short quick survey. Your field team needs to keep checking or reminding them in case they dont fill in time. You can try to incentivize with a small incentive to keep them engaged. But your field team needs to be proactive and engaging with them to ensure they can seek help in case they are stuck in the survey somewhere alone.

For phone surveys they can get a bit tiring for the respondent. JPAL has come out with the best guidelines as attached in a post above.

Please test intensely first. The questionnaire should be extremely basic to navigate.Your data collection platform will matter a lot. Some platforms are better for self administered surveys like Qualtrics . So please test all aspects, like can you monitor if the respondent has opened and left survey half way (you can then ask your team to call such participants to nudge them to complete it). Support the participants and make it as easy as possible for them.



University of Warwick.




Hi Ayesha,

Greetings! I am not an expert to give any suggestion on the methodology for telephone surveys, but I would like to share that if you are planning to collect data through a phone survey, then you can use the free services of SurveyCTO (a mobile-based data collection platform that works offline and used for high-quality data collection in over 160 countries).

SurveyCTO is offering free subscriptions to those who are working on direct COVID-19 projects. Read this article for more information: If you need any assistance, please feel free to reach out to me at

Best Wishes!


Trestle Research and Consulting 

Hi Rituu,

I worked with Viamo a while ago (it was called Voto at the time), they do mobile surveys through a software which is very intuitive and which they are still using it seems. I also remember getting support in designing my survey (guidance, best practices, etc.). In case it can be of any use!


You would probably have to use an already existing panel and work with someone who already has a relationship with the respondents. Also, be sure to specify that you are interested in that segment - I am not sure what research houses would have this. What countries?


Thank You dear ISST colleagues, yes we cn support you with advice and experience on doing fon surveys. In one recent survey, both a household questionnaire and an individual questionnaire was administered separately to the target woman and target man in the household. Each interview lasted approximately 3 hours. Two months prior to the start of the training for the household survey, a cognitive interviewing study began for these modules. Cognitive interviewing is a method that is designed to identify and mitigate potential sources of response error in how respondents interpret and respond to survey items and has been a standard approach to developing WEAI instruments (Hazel J Malapit, Sproule, and Kovarik 2017; Hannan et al. 2020). Good luck and continuation with your research plans, Susanne D-10999 Berlin

Very clearly articulated methodology and how to manage a telephone survey.
First Results: NCAER’s Delhi NCR Coronavirus Telephone Survey Sonalde Desai, Santanu Pramanik, and Dinesh Tiwari from NCAER National Data Innovation Centre share the results of its rapid response representative telephone survey in the Delhi NCR launched on April 3, 2020, 10 days after the lockout started, and completed on April 6, 2020.
The webinar discussion is moderated by Shekhar Shah. The study uses a scientifically designed rapid telephone survey in both the urban and rural parts of Delhi NCR to assess: - people’s knowledge of the Coronavirus - people’s attitudes and perceptions towards the risk of a Coronavirus infection - preventive and control measures, especially social distancing, and the feasibility of adhering to them - the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on people’s livelihoods, income, social life, and access to essential items. Round 1 of the DCVTS, completed in four days, interviewed a representative random sample of 1,750 adults in Delhi NCR comprising 31 districts in Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana. The DCVTS will be repeated roughly every three weeks with the questions chosen to reflect key issues that seem important for this fast moving pandemic. The session was recorded on April 14, 2020. For more information:

Email response from Prof Wolfgang Meyer, University of Saarland, Germany

Hi Rituu,

guess you will find plenty of support, phone interviews are still the 
most common way to do surveys. Done a lot of them in former times (now 
I am more in online surveys) but things are merging anyway 
(Smartphones are somehow in between the old style phone survey and web 
Surveys, having the advantages of both worlds).

Length is not really a problem (should not do 1 hour surveys in any 
form), more urgent are these questions:
a) what is your population how can you draw a proper sample size by 
selecting phone numbers?
b) what about connectivity? Some people are easy to reach others not, 
especially by mobile numbers.
c) What about design - just questions or pictures or even Videos as 
"questions" (or better "Stimuli"). This leads to the question of 
Software to be used. If you do not have a phone lab (guess so), the 
Question of receiving and saving the data might be a bit tricky - and 
the management of schedules surely is!

All the best

Dear ISST team,

So good to hear you working even in the time of crisis. I would suggest going through the practical advice:

1.Confidentiality and security 

Telephone services raise novel security issues. You must ensure that advisors are able to
provide confidential advice from a safe location. You must also be aware that women may not
be in a location where it is safe to discuss all aspects of an issue fully.

2. Relationship with Respondent

“Relational, interpersonal qualities, such as empathy and trust” are critical to the Researcher-respondent
relationship. You must know that telephonic communication takes time to build empathy. A lack of verbal and non-verbal cues can leave the researcher vulnerable to cultural insensitivity and unintentional discrimination.

3. Interpretation and telephone communication

Language gap between researcher and respodent is chronic problem on telephonic communications.

I hope it helps to conduct a holistic study. You can reach me 


Gurmeet Kaur

Department Cum Centre for Women's Studies and Development

Panjab University.


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