Computer Assisted Web Interviewing (CAWI)

May 5, 2017


The CAWI mode in Survey Solutions allows the collection of survey information through web interviews. Enumerators are not conducting the interviews, as the respondents are fully guided by the software, with which they interact through the Internet—either with a tablet or computer. Unlike the CAPI mode in Survey Solutions, if respondents are utilizing a computer to fill out the survey respondents need to have a stable Internet connection during the entire process. Another difference to note when deploying the survey on a computer is that the picture and barcode question types are not available because they require hardware most computers do not have.

This mode is most useful when the respondents are not easily approachable or a face-to-face interview cannot be easily scheduled, such as surveying employees in firms or international organizations that are spread across a large geographical area.
The designers of the questionnaires that will be applied in the web-interview mode need to be aware of the following:

  • self-enumeration: the respondents will enter their information themselves without presence of the interviewer, hence navigation must be intuitive and clear;
  • instructions and questions wording: the respondent will not be trained on the survey and may need more instructions and explanations relatively to the interviewers that had had a training on the survey;
  • error messages must be clear and instructive: they need to tell the respondent of where the problem may be, and how it may be resolved;
  • different presentation of some question types in the web interview mode (for example, barcode reading);
  • interviews collected in web-survey mode cannot be rejected back to the respondents.


Setting up a web interview 

Survey Solutions provides a flexible platform for the CAWI mode. There are two independent decisions that must be made in terms of 1) whether or not there is identifying information on survey cases and 2) how the respondent/interviewer will interact with the software


Creating assignments  

Similar to the CAPI mode of Survey Solutions, depending on the needs of your survey the CAWI mode can be setup in different ways –i.e. Having identification information for your assignment or not. Creating assignments in CAWI mode is done exactly the same way as in CAPI mode.
1) Having identification information for your assignment
For example, this may be the case when an initial listing has been conducted, and thereby the names, positions, and/or email addresses of respondents are available. First interviewer accounts would be created for each respondent. Then, assignments are created one by one or in upload mode and allocated to respondents. Information on how assignments can be distributed to respondents is reviewed below.
2) Not having identification for your assignment
For example, this setup would work when you have the email address of a contact person in a firm and you expect N number employees to fill out the survey. In this situation, one interviewer account would be created. Then, one assignment is created with the size set to unlimited (quantity = -1). This means that an unlimited number of survey cases can be created for this one assignment. The size of the assignment can be revised at any point in time on the server. Information on how assignments can be distributed to respondents is reviewed below.



Distributing assignments

1) Generate the link

After you have created the assignments you would like to distribute in CAWI mode, you will need to generate the links to the questionnaire. When identification information is not available this is the only way to distribute assignments, but it can also be used when there is identification information available. Remember the cases must be in *interviewer assigned* status prior to generating the link(s).
To generate links for the assignments, 

1) Go to the Survey Setup tab, and then click on Questionnaires

2) Click on the questionnaire that you would like to setup survey cases as web interviews. 

3) Select *Web Interviews Setup.

4) Enable/disable spam protection before clicking on Start. Enabling spam protection will help defend against robot-submitted data by requiring the respondent to enter a CAPTCHA code before being allowed to start the interview. This mode is useful if respondents, and not interviewers, will be filling out the questionnaire.

5) Click the blue *Download*  button to download a zip file with a tab delimited file with information about the assignments and the links to the questionnaire for the assignments. The downloaded * *file will contain the following information: 

  • Identifying questions (i.e. Identification number of household, as shown in the image below)
  • Generated interview id and key;
  • Link to be sent to the respondent. One link will be generated for each assignment. Note that Survey Solutions does not automatically send the links for interviews to the respondents, and the links must be delivered to them using your own mailer.

After you have completed your data collection, you can go back to survey setup page and the Web Interviews Setup (Shown in Step 3 above) and click on the orange Stop Web Interview  button to stop the web interviewing. After clicking on this button, all the links to the questionnaires that you have shared be expired. You can reactivate the links by following steps 1 through 5 again. 
If the respondent needs to interrupt an interview for a longer time, and close the program or restart a computer, he/she should retain her own personalized interview link, which can be copied at any point after clicking on the initial start button. The link contains a long system generated interview case id.
Below is more information on how respondents can navigate and fill out questionnaires on the web interface.
2) Respondent login to web interface/tablet
This method of distributing assignments can only be used when identification information is available for respondents, as each respondent would have an interviewer account created on the server. The respondent would then use the login credentials created to either login to the server or on a tablet. However, note that Interviews started online, may be completed online or on the tablet after synchronization, but interviews received on the tablet must be completed on the tablet.
For information on how to use the tablet please refer to the articles under the Interviewer topic. If using the web interface either accessed through the link or logging in to the server, refer to the information below


Please refer to the table below for examples on how the CAWI mode can be setup as described above. 

The custom messages that appear can be customized. Please refer to this article for more information. 

Filling out the questionnaire 

This article covers how to access the questionnaire, and navigate through the web interface when filling out the questionnaire on a computer.

If using a link to access the questionnaire, respondents will see a landing page similar to this:


If respondents are instructed to login to the server, have them navigate to the URL of the server []. Then, use the enumerator/respondent login credentials to login.  
The web interface consists of the following tabs:
1) Create new, lists the assignments assigned to the respondent.
2) Started, lists the cases that have been started, but not completed.
3) Completed, lists the cases that have been completed.
4) Rejected, lists the cases that have been rejected by the supervisor.
To logoff, respondents click on their username at the top right and select logoff.

To begin filling out the questionnaire, click on the tab according to the status of the survey. Then, click on the case or assignment if listed under the Create new tab and click on Open or Start new interview (for assignments).

The data entered as part of the web-interview is sent to the server immediately, so there is no Save action specifically required from the respondent. However, the respondent will still need to click Complete to signify that there is nothing else he/she wants to add or change in the interview and it that the case may be sent for validation and processing. 

After the respondent has gone through the entire questionnaire and ready to set as complete, navigate to the Complete section. An overall comment can be added if the respondent chooses to do so, before clicking on Complete.

If the questionnaire is multilingual, the respondent/interviewer can change the language of the questionnaire, by clicking on Original at the top right corner of the screen.

To add a comment to any question,
1) Click on the 3 vertical dots at the upper right corner.

2) Click on Add comment.

2) Type the comment in the box that appears.

3) Click on Post. Once posted the comment cannot be deleted or edited. However, another comment can be added.  

To go back to the homepage to logoff,
1) Click on the pencil icon on the upper left hand side.

2) Click on the username at the upper right hand corner and click on Logoff.