John Creswell recommends four steps in the Research Design text. I offer one more that surprised me as I put together my survey list.
- Assuming this is a mail-out or emailed survey, first send a short note in advance to your participants letting them know a survey is on the way.
- Wait one week and send your survey.
- Send a post-card style follow up to all members of the sample between four and eight days after sending the survey.
- Send a personalized letter that includes your signature to non-respondents one week later.
Following the above steps will add time to the overall length of your study, but should your response rate be too low, your results may not be statistically valid. If this is the case, you cannot report that your survey results are representative of a given population, but only representative of the sample that you surveyed at that moment in time. It is a major study limitation, so getting the response rate high is worth your time and energy.
Soon, I’ll be sending out a survey to a population sample. Recently, I wrote about asking for help from your Chair when you need it. This time, I asked my population for help.
I posted on LinkedIn boards where my population may be lurking and asked them to participate in my survey, and if they wouldn’t, to please honestly tell me what would entice them. People responded with only one answer.
Yes and they wanted name credit.
I’m so glad I asked because I would never have thought of it. Several people want their name in my dissertation. What? Okay! Done. Maybe I can make a whole list of credits like at the end of a movie. Starring evaluation participants and expert survey takers.
Hopefully enough people will respond to deem my work valid. Otherwise I may be launching a Kickstarter campaign to get survey participants!