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Web Survey Bibliography

Title Examining the Effect of Prenotification Postcards on Online Survey Response Rate in a University Graduate Sample
Source Survey Practice, 7, 3
Year 2014
Access date 27.11.2014
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The Internet has become an increasingly popular avenue for data collection. Online surveys have many advantages, such as cutting the costs of printing and mailing surveys and reducing time for data collection and entry (Kaplowitz et al. 2004). However, online surveys have disadvantages (Schonlau et al. 2002); most notable being the low response rates relative to other modes of data collection (Hoonakker and Carayon 2009). With growing interest in the use of online surveys (Sue and Ritter 2011), research needs to clarify ways to increase response rates for this survey mode.
The literature identifies several factors that increase response rates for other survey modes, including prenotification (Fox et al. 1988). Notifying participants of a study in advance may increase response rates by alerting individuals that they have been selected as participants and increasing the legitimacy of the study (Fox et al. 1988). One way to inform participants of a study is via mailed introductory postcards. This form of prenotification has been found to increase response rates for both mail (Whiteman et al. 2003) and telephone (Iredell et al. 2004) survey modes. It is less clear whether introductory postcards function similarly for online surveys. What research does exist is inconsistent, with some studies reporting no difference between mail and e-mail prenotification on online survey response rates (Porter and Whitcomb 2007), while other studies suggest that mail prenotification is even less effective compared to e-mail prenotification (Schaefer and Dillman 1998). Other research has focused on differences between introductory postcards and no prenotification at all, generally finding that postcards have the potential to increase response rates for online surveys (Kaplowitz et al. 2004). Overall, findings are inconclusive. Given the costs associated with mail prenotification, additional research on the effectiveness of introductory postcards for online survey response rates is needed.
The purpose of this study was to test whether using an introductory postcard increased the response rate for an online survey among recent alumni from the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). The Center for Research Design and Analysis (CRDA) at UNR conducts an annual survey of alumni one year after graduation to document graduates’ employment and/or educational standings and to assess how well major programs prepare graduates for life after college. Degree programs, departments, and colleges at UNR use alumni feedback to determine how well educational goals are being met and determine if changes should be made. For this study, one group of randomly-assigned alumni was sent an introductory prenotification postcard, while the second group did not receive a prenotification.

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Year of publication2014
Bibliographic typeJournal article