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A low response rate can be devastating to the reliability of a study (Benson, 1946; Phillips, 1941; Robinson, 1952). "Factors related to survey response rates." Journal of Applied Psychology 9-251.
They are less intrusive than telephone or face-to-face surveys.
When respondents receive a questionnaire in the mail, they are free to complete it on their own time-table (Cahalan, 1951; Jahoda, et al., 1962).
This paper will address most of the important issues related to written questionnaires Advantages and Disadvantages of Written Questionnaires Questionnaires are easy to analyze, and most statistical analysis software can easily process them. "Generalizing mail survey inducement methods: Population interactions with anonymity and sponsorship." Public Opinion Quarterly 2-111.
They are cost effective when compared to face-to-face interviews, mostly because of the costs associated with travel time (Bachrack and Scoble, 1967; Benson, 1946; Hochstim and Athanasopoulos, 1970; Moser and Kalton, 1971; Seitz, 1944). "The effect of monetary incentives and follow-up mailings on the response rate and responsive quality in mail surveys." Public Opinion Quarterly 6-361.
Questionnaires are familiar to most people (Berdie, Anderson, and Niebuhr, 1986).
Nearly everyone has had some experience completing questionnaires and they generally do not make people apprehensive. The postcard serves as an effective reminder for subjects who have forgotten to complete the survey (Dillman, 1978). "Questionnaire returns: Stamps versus business reply envelopes revisited." Journal of Marketing Research 0-293. Nonresponse Bias Many studies have attempted to determine if there is a difference between respondents and nonrespondents. Low response is the curse of statistical analysis, and it can dramatically lower confidence in the results. While response rates vary widely from one questionnaire to another, well-designed studies consistently produce high response rates. "Initial returns on mail questionnaires: a literature review and research note." Research in Higher Education 1-367. For example, a written survey to a group of poorly educated people might not work because of reading skill problems. "Using monetary inducements to increase response rates from mailed surveys." Journal of Applied Psychology 2-225. More frequently, some people are turned off by written questionnaires because of misuse (Deutcher, 1956; Norton, 1930). "Traditionally, between 5 and 65 percent of those sent questionnaires respond without follow-up reminders. Researchers can increase the response from follow-up attempts by including another copy of the questionnaire (Futrell and Lamb, 1981; Goldstein and Kroll, 1957; Orr and Neyman, 1965; Sivan, Epley, and Burns, 1980). These rates are too low to yield confident results" (Berdie, Anderson, and Niebuhr, 1986, p. The most important consideration is that the investigator "designs the follow-up procedure by taking into consideration the unique characteristics of the people in the sample." (Berdie, Anderson, and Neibuhr, 1986, p. and Fulcher, 1974; Hinrichs, 1975; Jones and Lang, 1980; Keane, 1963; Peterson, 1975; Watson, 1965; Wiseman, 1973). The vast majority of these studies show that a follow-up postcard increases response rate, and a meta-analysis by Fox, Crask, and Kim (1988) reveals an aggregate gain of 3.5 percent. "Increasing mail questionnaire returns with a preliminary letter." Journal of Advertising Research -39.