It is with great humility that we begin our term as Survey Practice co-editors. The hard work of creating the journal, assuring a steady stream of content, and developing a target audience has been the result of the herculean efforts of our predecessors – John Kennedy, Diane O’Rourke, David Moore, Andy Petchev, and others. They built the Survey Practice house from the ground up; we are simply moving in. We may redecorate a little, but our first and most important task is “do no harm” to the incredible work they have already done in creating the journal.
Our first initiative, evident in this issue, is the transfer of the journal to a new website. The existing site served Survey Practice well but also suffered from some limitations that made it cumbersome for translating articles (and especially graphics) into html formats. On the new site, we are using Open Journal Systems for managing content thus allowing for the creation of a permanent url/link for citation purposes, searchable archives of existing articles, and greater search engine optimization. The result should be greater visibility to the journal and to contributing authors. The site has been designed with twin purposes in mind: (1) to provide consistency within the existing AAPOR structure and (2) to maintain a unique Survey Practice brand identity.
Beyond this important initiative, we hope to remain true to Survey Practice’s original intent: to provide an open-access outlet for practitioners and professionals working in the field to report on what is working (and what is not working) in their ongoing efforts to improve data quality, cost effectiveness, and the overall usefulness of survey research. We hope the journal will provide an outlet for innovative experiments in data collection (even failed experiments) that can help stimulate thought and conversation about the direction of public opinion research. We are keenly aware that the methodological ground beneath our feet is shifting and that survey research will have to adapt to new technologies and social realities to continue to provide strategically actionable information to clients and reliable and valid data for academic studies of political, economic, and social attitudes and behaviors.
This issue highlights this mission. We begin with an article by Michael Brick and colleagues examining methods for improving response rates in two-phase mail surveys. The results offer helpful insights for anyone designing research that requires identifying important subsets of the populations in wave one and then surveying a member of that targeted population in wave two. Graham Wright and Jordan Peugh similarly explore the effectiveness of KnowledgePanel in identifying rare populations. They find much promise in the approach, particularly in terms of its cost effectiveness though they also caution that it is difficult to rule out the possibility that the samples will be biased.
Morgan Millar and Don Dillman examine whether online survey participants can be encouraged to take surveys on their smart phones. While their results are not conclusive, their research question addresses important and timely concerns: Can we encourage survey responses on a smart phone? Wolfgang Bandilla, Mick Couper, and Lars Kaczmirek consider alternatively the effectiveness of different modes of invitation to online survey response. They find that a mailed invitation is more effective than e-mail alone, presumably because it increases respondents’ perceptions of survey legitimacy. Taking a very different approach, Koen Buellens and Geert Loosveldt utilize simulations to offer a caution: Efforts to increase response rates may actually increase, rather than decrease, bias. Finally, Michael Colicchia, Meredith Czaplewski, and Angela Jaszcak consider the effect of refusal conversion incentives across multiple waves of a panel study. They find that graduated incentives to encourage compliance during the first wave do not necessarily lead to expectations of greater incentives during future waves of the panel.
We hope that you find these articles informative and relevant to your work. We certainly have. Please feel free to contact us with your thoughts, suggestions, and comments on specific articles or on how Survey Practice can be more useful to survey practice.