To produce meaningful comparisons on a global level, Global Kids Online has developed a methodology that is standardized enough to allow for cross-national comparison of data, yet flexible enough to account for local and contextual variations.

It is important that the toolkit continues to evolve as it is adapted and used in new countries around the world and researchers include topics and questions of interest to them. Equally, it is important that the toolkit remains constant to enable comparisons across countries and over time, so as to build the global knowledge.

How to ensure comparability of data?

Qualitative methods can be relatively forgiving, permitting the researcher to judge the situation of data collection in a flexible way and still draw comparable conclusions across children or contexts or even countries. There is more pressure on the conduct of a survey questionnaire, as this both carries the main burden of delivering cross-nationally standardised and reliable data while also leaving little flexibility to the process of survey administration or contextualisation. In terms of research topics, too, the tension between standardisation and contextualisation is difficult.

To address these challenges we have created a research model that combines core, optional and adaptable elements thus ensuring both comparability and flexibility.

Adapting the modular survey

In designing the Global Kids Online questionnaire, we created a modular survey with Core, Optional, and Adaptable questions:

  • Core questions are comparatively few and must be included in the survey in any country. They cover all the elements of the Global Kids Online research framework and they balance research on opportunities and risks. While they may be changed as the research progresses and children’s digital environments change, the core questions are expected to remain fairly stable to retain comparability over time as the project moves forward and the Global Kids Online network grows.
  • Optional questions are more numerous, covering the elements of the framework in more depth, or adding new topics entirely, and are available for use as appropriate to the research context or as determined by national researchers. As an example of a full optional topic, we developed a set of questions to measure forms of online sexual risks.
  • Adaptable questions invite individual countries to add questions or response options of particular relevance to them. This was important for current partners but also for future – and unknown – partners, to provide a mechanism for future flexibility depending on specific national, cultural or digital contexts. Once piloted and evaluated, these questions could become optional questions in a future revision of the questionnaire.

This allows the Global Kids Online survey to provide all partners – current and future – the chance to contribute to the questionnaire design.

Get in touch to let us know how you have used and adapted the toolkit by contacting us.

Adapting the qualitative tools

Broadly, the design of the qualitative interview protocols follow the same model as the survey development process. A set of topics are provided in the toolkit but the protocols are loosely structured, freeing research teams to determine what will work optimally in their country and which topics might be of most interest.

In the pilot research, focus group moderators were trained by national researchers and were invited to draft their own sets of questions based loosely on the topics provided. The purpose of the qualitative research was also left flexible. In countries where prior qualitative research already existed, it might best be used after the survey, to follow up on puzzles or deepen interpretation.

Examples of how the pilot research partners have adapted the tools can be found in the country reports: Argentina, Montenegro, Serbia, South Africa, the Philippines.

Additional resources

Research framework

Designing a standardised survey

Comparative analysis

Addressing diversities and inequalities

Priorities when designing cross-national comparative research

Hear Ellen Helsper (LSE) talking about the priorities when designing Cross-national comparative survey research and Maria Cristina Mendes da Ponte (New Unicversity of Lisbon) discussing how to design Cross-national comparative research involving interviews and focus groups.


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