A Life History Calendar is a survey method in which events in a respondent’s life are visualized in a timeline. We were commissioned to develop this method for a retrospective study using CAPI-interviews (personal interview with the help of a laptop) on people with a criminal record.
We anticipated that these (former) criminals would be reluctant to participate. Completed interviews must also never be lost. Therefore we developed a method so that data could be stored on an external server instead of on a laptop. We were able to let the respondents complete the CAPI questionnaire at home because mobile internet coverage was sufficient.
Life events were grouped thematically: partners, children, accommodation, employment, incarceration, health and miscellaneous. The various themes are addressed during the interview. Finally, the calendar exhibits all the events in lines. The vertical axis shows the respondent’s lifespan.
The timeline not only provides a graphical representation of the events, but also navigates through the questionnaire. This representation helps the respondents see mistakes, such as chronologically missing events, faster.