This report discusses the adaptation of survey items for a new survey so that they are responsive to diverse circumstances while, where possible, still generating cross-nationally comparable findings.

Author: Kjartan Ólafsson

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Survey design involves a range of different decisions, many of which affect the accuracy of the results. This report discusses some of the key challenges of comparative survey research, and the different approaches to quality in comparative survey projects through the concept of equivalence.

This field of research has developed considerably in the past three decades or so, and we now have a greater understanding of how equivalence can be achieved. Global Kids Online (GKO) has developed a modular survey for those who want to study children’s use of digital media. The survey is responsive to local contexts while also allowing cross-national comparisons, and key to its flexibility is the concept of careful adaptation.

The guide also includes: a checklist with key issues to consider when adopting a modular survey, a glossary of key terms related to survey adaptation, and a list of key resources.  

All resources developed by Global Kids Online, including this report, are available under a Creative Commons licence (CC BY-NC) and can be used only for non-commercial purposes and with attribution.

The preferred citation for this report is:

Ólafsson, Kjartan (2016) Adopting and adapting a standardised modular survey. London: Global Kids Online. Available from:

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