Is CAPI all that is it made up to be?

In the world of market research CAPI has been made out to be an easy-to-use tool for achieving quality data...


Is CAPI all that is it made up to be?

Is CAPI all that is it made up to be?

19th December 2016 in   Market Research Articles by Andy Madeley

In the world of market research CAPI has been made out to be an easy-to-use tool for achieving quality data...

CAPI presents significant positives to researchers, where it can provide an efficient means of gathering data through using small mobile devices that take much of the decision making and interpterion out of the hands of the interviewer.

Many researchers, including many of our clients, trust greatly in CAPI. But should they? At SwissPeaks we provide what is perhaps a more cynical view of this data collection platform…

So why the cynicism?

As we see it, CAPI is a valuable tool that can provide quality data. But, this can only be achieved when it is used correctly. Having just the software and the mobile devices does not make CAPI a good tool! As with any collection platform, having the knowledge and skills to use CAPI correctly will give you quality data.

These are our top five tips for using CAPI…

1. Consideration must be taken to the size of the CAPI device screen

Questionnaire design must consider the specifications of the CAPI device in use!

Different devices will have different screen sizes, and the design must take this into account when selecting how to format certain questions. Ideally, the questionnaire designer will need to design the questionnaire as they want it to appear on the CAPI device to avoid confusion with the CAPI scripter.

- Certain question types, such as Grids, will not work on small CAPI screens (around 5-inch).

2. Every question must include interviewer instructions

The questionnaire designer must remove all potential confusion and ambiguity for the interviewer in the field.

- Typically, "READ OUT ANSWERS" and "DO NOT READ OUT ANSWERS" are commonly the default instruction.

A key benefit of CAPI is its ability to remove the potential for interviewers to put their own intereperation on questions in the field. By adding interviewer instructions, this helps to remove this possability. 

3. Use catch-All Answer Categories

Always retain as least “one catch-all” answer category, e.g. "Don't know" or "Refused".

This is important. As CAPI is a script, you must get an answer to all questions and we believe it is always best to have a catch all answer response available to do this. "Don't know" or "Refused" can be used as a “catch-all” answer response.

4. Do not use Skip Logic in CAPI

- A "skip" is an "outbound" logic instruction in CAPI.

Never use skip logic as a) this is not needed for CAPI and b) it is the most fundamental area that causes errors, ambiguity and confusion for a scripter.

Remove "skip logic" and you will reduce errors by 50%!

5. CAPI Device Software

The type of CAPI device and software used must be considered!

The most popular CAPI software are mostly programmed for use with Android devices only. Some CAPI data collection software will either not work, or appear differently/unformatted if used on iOS, Windows and Fire (Amazon).

CAPI can be an excellent tool for gathering quality data - but only if it is done correctly. In our view, having the software and devices is not enough! Therefore, it is down to experience and good work pratices that make use of the potential of CAPI. 

Any questions/quieires about CAPI please do get in touch at 



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