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Introduction to Special Issue of Survey Practice on Item Nonresponse

Don A. Dillman, Washington State University

Considerable interest exists in the joint use of Web and mail questionnaires to collect sample survey data. This mixed-mode interest stems from two important considerations. First, nearly one-third of all U.S. households either do not have Internet access or use it infrequently (less than once a week), making it unlikely that Internet surveys will be completed by representative samples of all households (Pew Research Center, 2010).  Second, address-based sampling (ABS), which appears to be our most adequate household sample frame (Iannacchione, 2011), makes it possible to use mail contacts to request Web survey responses from those who are able and willing to respond in that way.  For those who cannot or will not respond over the Internet, mail questionnaires provide an alternative means of responding that is likely to improve the demographic representativeness of respondents (Messer and Dillman, 2011). Read More »

Determinants of Item Nonresponse to Web and Mail Respondents in Three Address-Based Mixed-Mode Surveys of the General Public

Benjamin L. Messer, Washington State University
Michelle L. Edwards, Washington State University
Don A. Dillman, Washington State University

Three recent experiments demonstrate the efficacy of using mail contacts to convince address-based samples of general public households to respond to a Web survey (Smyth et. al., 2010; Messer & Dillman, 2011). Results show that mailing the Web request first to respondents, followed by a paper questionnaire at a later date, produced Web responses from over 1/3 of sampled respondents; the paper follow-up resulted in an additional 14-18%. This “Web+mail” design also obtained demographically dissimilar respondents via each mode: Web respondents were significantly younger with higher levels of income and education than mail respondents. Thus, it seems beneficial to offer mail as an alternative to Web to increase response rates and enhance the representativeness of respondents. However, as research suggests, it could also be the case that the mail obtains higher item nonresponse compared to Web, which raises concerns about the additional value mail might add in this type of Web+mail mixed mode design. Read More »

Comparing Item Nonresponse across Different Delivery Modes in General Population Surveys

Virginia M. Lesser, Oregon State University
Lydia A. Newton, Oregon State University
Daniel Yang, Oregon State University

In 2006, we began a multi-year effort to evaluate the possibility of transitioning from a regularly conducted telephone survey of general public satisfaction with Oregon transportation services to either a mail-only or Web-plus-mail mixed-mode design. Two primary objectives were: 1) to identify ways to counter the trend toward lower telephone survey response rates and 2) to evaluate the impact of alternative designs on data quality.

Three experiments were conducted for which unit response rates analyses have been reported elsewhere (Lesser and Newton, 2007; Lesser et al., 2011a; Lesser et al., 2011b). In this study, we consider whether switching from telephone to mail or a combination of mail and Web will have a deleterious effect on item nonresponse, as previous research has suggested (e.g., de Leeuw et al., 2003). Read More »

Item Nonresponse in a Client Survey of the General Public

Glenn D. Israel, University of Florida

Alexa J. Lamm, University of Florida

The Cooperative Extension Service (CES) provides non-formal education programs and information outreach throughout the United States to millions of Americans each year.  In Florida, CES provides an array of programs on topics such as landscape maintenance and family financial management, which reach a cross-section of the state’s adult population.  Each year a client survey is conducted to assess service quality.

Methodologically, quasi-general public surveys of this nature are of increasing interest to surveyors.  They provide an opportunity to obtain and utilize e-mail addresses from potential respondents because of the pre-existing client relationship, which is unavailable in household surveys.  Between 2008-2010, attempts were made to collect e-mail contact information from clients and test ways of using that information in an effort to improve survey response rates and data quality by offering a Web response option. Read More »

Do Mail and Internet Surveys Produce Different Item Nonresponse Rates? An Experiment Using Random Mode Assignment

Morgan M. Millar, Washington State University
Don A. Dillman, Washington State University

A significant limitation of most data quality comparisons between Web and mail survey responses is that the individuals who choose to respond to one survey mode have different characteristics than those who select the alternative mode. As suggested by other papers in this issue of Survey Practice, such differences in, for example, Internet access, education, and income, may contribute to mode differences in item nonresponse. This makes it difficult to isolate how mode itself affects this aspect of survey quality.

The surveys of undergraduate students analyzed herein differ from general public surveys in this regard, inasmuch as all students in this fairly homogenous (for education and age) population have Internet access and are accessible by both postal mail and e-mail. Since college students are relatively highly Internet-literate and course work requires nearly daily use of the Internet, it is possible to randomly assign students to Web-only and mail-only treatment groups. In this paper, we determine if mail and Web item nonresponse rates are similar when randomly assigning individuals to a response mode. Additionally, we examine patterns of item nonresponse for different types of question formats. Read More »

Survey Practice Book List 2012: Recent Books and Journals in Public Opinion, Survey Methods, and Survey Statistics

Mario Callegaro, Google, London.

This article is an update of the April 2011 article. As in the previous year, we organized the books by topics; this should help the readers to focus on their interests. This time we also added few books from research methods in psychology. We list currently available new books and new editions of books already being published.

It is unlikely to list all new books (or new editions) in the field; we did our best scouting different resources and websites. The list is also focusing only on books published in the English language. Books are listed based on the relevance to the topic and no judgment is made in terms of quality of the content. We let the reader do so.

The journal section signals special issues and journal news in the area of public opinion, survey research and survey statistics. Read More »