Modular Online Time Use Survey (MOTUS) – Translating an existing method in the 21st century

Theun Pieter van Tienoven, Sarah Daniels, Djiwo Weenas, Jef Deyaert, Sarah Van den Bogaert, Sven Rymenants

Time-use survey, online methodology, time-diary standardization, modular design

Time-use surveys are internationally highly valued methods for capturing daily behaviour. Their combination of questionnaires and paper-and-pencil time-diaries (among others in Europe) or telephone interview yesterdaymethod (in USA) through which respondents (re)construct their daily activities (i.e. what and when) together with contextual information (i.e. with whom and where) is both its strength as well as its weakness. This weakness stems from the high (personnel) costs involved in conducting time-use surveys, costs that can largely be reduced by switching to an online method. However, recent experimenting with online time-use surveys a) jeopardizes the hard work of harmonizing international time-use surveys and b) never truly copied or implemented the methodology of the paper-and-pencil time diaries let alone added additional features that improve the ‘old’ method. After having received a substantial grant we took the challenge to translate this existing method to an online method a) without loosing its strengths, b) with adding additional features that enrich the data even more, and c) with automated processes that reduce personnel and processing costs. In this contribution we a) reveal our method and its modular design and automated processes, b) provide preliminary results of the quality and response of the population pilot study (ninvited≈40,000), c) evaluate our effort, d) challenge others to comment and collaborate on our methodology in order to end up with a (new) standardized methodology for online diary studies that allows cross-national comparisons, and e) reflect on future possibilities and initiatives that serve the imminent online diary methodology.