Researchers studying the situational use of malt liquor and marijuana are employing an automated cell-phone calling system to collect data. The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system calls you, well if you're involved in the study that is, and asks a series of questions about what you're up to at the moment and, I guess, whether you're stoned, drunk, or have immediate plans to be. Health behavior specialist R. Lorraine Collins at the University of Buffalo came up with the system after using PDA-based approaches to data-gathering that she says put too much responsibility on the study participant. I'd imagine that if you're really lit, you may not remember (or bother) to input the who, what, when, and where later on. From the University of Buffalo:
(Collins) showed that, in what is known in the psychology research community as "ecological momentary assessment" (EMA) or "right here, right now" data collection, cell phones are more familiar to research participants and therefore training is easier; and that with IVR, data is stored instantly, removing any issues around the loss of information.
"This is an interesting and useful way to collect data," said Collins. "It eliminates the problems associated with study participants having to recall their behavior, and cell phones are ubiquitous with young people, who are our main targets in these studies. We capture their data right away. It's all computerized and stored immediately."