Open-Ended Survey Questions: Item Nonresponse Nightmare or Qualitative Data Dream?

Angie L. Miller, Amber D. Lambert


The purpose of this research was to explore whether those with certain demographic and personal characteristics, including gender, age, cohort, number of children, marital status, citizenship, race, current employment status, income, and institutional satisfaction level, are more or less likely to respond to open-ended questions placed at the beginning, middle, and end of an online alumni survey. Using data from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), a series of chi-squared and means comparisons analyses were done to compare whether or not respondents provided an answer to three different open-ended questions throughout the survey. Findings suggest that there are some group differences in likelihood of response, which could be explained by time burden, negativity bias, and self-identification as “other.”


item nonresponse; alumni survey; open-ended items

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