Mitigating Nonresponse Error in Online Surveys Through Research-based Design and Delivery

David Carl Ison


As researchers increasingly rely on online and email based methods of inquiry, it has become ever more necessary to identify the best practices in avoiding the blockage of research-oriented emails by spam and anti-virus filtration software. This study investigated the available literature on the use of email to distribute research surveys. Although data was readily available on how to and why to conduct research online as well as how to maximize response rates based upon contact strategies and survey design, the literature lacked information about potential problems associated with the use of email in the conduct of such research. Evidence on how to avoid spam filtration was provided through exigent literature and ex post facto findings of a study of higher education faculty. Additionally, data was garnered from different email content and design through the use of a priori spam checking software. This data revealed that a perceptible difference in response rate and low spam warning ratings can occur if specialized email construction and delivery techniques are utilized. Finally, a systematic method of survey/email nonresponse mitigation is provided. 


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