Digital Signatures


(Eugene Ehlers) #1

Hi there,

Is it possible to do a digital signature in survey solutions?

Eugene Ehlers

(Aleksandra Komarovskaya) #2

Dear Eugene,

It depends on what you exactly need to cover. If you need to add your signature as a picture - you can use a ststic text with a picture of a signature.
If you need to make a signature during the interview process - to sign something at the end of the interview on a tablet (as an example) - no, we don’t have such functionality.
But we have different other types of question which allow us to have some control on Interviewers, such as audio question (to record some voice) or current time question - eg. to set the beginning and the end of the interview.


Survey solutions team support

(Misha) #3

Please describe your use case. We might consider including such control to Survey Solutions in the future if your argument is convincing. Immediately, I see no direct value in initiating a signature on a tablet. Unless you use a term “digital signature” in its original form which means a very different thing than respondent trying to reproduce his signature with his finger on a tablet.


(Sergiy Radyakin) #4


the way I read it “written” is different from “electronic”. So, if the requirement of the Research Ethics Committees is to have a “written informed consent” you have to have it:
– in writing,
– in ink,
– on paper.

A signature makes sense when the document being signed is visible to the person signing the document.
– If she sees a blank screen with a message “sign here” how does she know what she signs for?
– How does she know that her signature will not be taken to sign another document?
– How will she have access to the signed document later to confirm it has not changed?
– How will the interviewer validate her signature?
– Will the signature obtained in this form be legally admitted in the court?
etc. etc. etc.

Note in the CAPI model the tablet is the instrument of the interviewer, not the respondent. You may want to consider :

  1. a self-interviewing model where the respondent fills out the whole form herself, and through that provides a consent;
  2. a respondent entering some keyword that he will be recognizing later;
  3. a respondent entering some formal ID known to very few people besides him (for example the US immigration authorities use the passport number to certify the electronic visa application).
  4. capture a photographic image of the respondent’s signature.

A digital signature (algorithm) mentioned by Misha is a solution for this task in the digital environment, and it is devised exactly because the written signature is not up to the challenge.

That said, if you already prepared the answers to all the questions above (not for me, for the people who’s going to ask your interviewers the same in the field) you can

  1. add a picture question to your questionnaire;
  2. install a third party signature capture application from Google play (it took me 38 seconds to find one, and 2 minutes to find another that was looking good for the task)
  3. instruct the interviewers to capture the signature with that app, then upload the image to the picture question from file (did you know the picture can be captured as PHOTO or as a FILE from Android?)


Best, Sergiy

(Eugene Ehlers) #5

Dear Aleksandra & Michael

Thank you both for your feedback, unfortunately my client, Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI), has gone 100% electronic with their data collection without any paper backup.
Their research studies has a requirement for written informed consent from Research Ethics Committees.
It is therefore critical for their studies to capture formal consent and for that purpose they require the functionality to allow research participants
and their data collectors to provide electronic signatures using a stylus pen on a tablet.

AHRI will be making extensive use of Survey Solutions from 2018 onwards for several of its research studies
ranging from a large longitudinal population surveillance, monitoring a population of about 168,000 individuals, to complex clinical trials and intervention studies.

Kind Regadrs
Eugene Ehlers

(Misha) #6

That feature was implemented in 18.06