MA Dissertation Fail?


Hey guys,

I have a question for anyone with experience doing MA dissertations that involve questionnaires/data collection with statistical analyses.

I'm in completion of mine in HR Management and I'm worried about failing because I'm struggling to collect enough questionnaire responses... My demographic is quite narrow as we have to focus on a specific industry and I've tried contacting several organisations for help with distribution but have yet to hear back from them. My supervisor expects me to collect around 100 responses and when I told her that I'm doubtful I would be able to, she just said that I need to distribute to 500 people - which is impossible for me because I don't even know 500 people in the industry.

I'm just wondering if anyone has ever used small sample sizes (under 50 responses via questionnaires distributed online, for example) and managed to pass their dissertation? I asked my supervisor this question but she just said I need to distribute to many more people. I know there'll be a large margin of error when it comes to statistical analyses with such a small sample size but I'm honestly running out of options and the worry of failing is affecting my motivation and concentration to start my write up.


Why can't you just pop into some offices/email or call relevant people and hand out the questionnaire? I think you will need to be persistent in order to get contacts.


Recruitment for studies is notoriously hard and frustrating. I'm there too at the minute. There's nothing for it but to keep pestering people and trying slightly different approaches, maddening as it is!

Avatar for Pjlu

i agree -you have to keep pestering and going back. I think Creswell mentioned taking an approach where you go for your target population at least 3 times- letter or poster or similar seeking participants, then a follow up, then a postcard style reminder-all about 2 weeks apart for each group (Educational Research, 2005).

I would call or visit the organisations, as well as using online methods (if this is what you are doing). Most people working in organisations get large numbers of emails so tend to ignore those that are not urgent or related to something they need to do for their work. It is harder to ignore a real person or a friendly polite voice on the end of a phone.


I am in the same boat as you are right now but doing my PhD. I agree that it is extremely hard to get respondents, especially if your sample is so specific. I've seen one MA study in my department who sampled family/relatives of those suffering Huntington's disease, and I think she only had 45 people.... Please don't get discouraged. From what I am experiencing right now, try to get as many respondents as you can through various approach. I find forums and FB page very useful, and I've tried snowballing, getting those who answer my questionnaire to forward it to other possible participants and this has helped a bit. Good luck OK!


At the moment, I don't think it would be possible for me to visit organisations as my demographic is mothers working in the education sector and schools are pretty much on break for summer now, so I'm pretty much relying on online means like forums, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ etc.

I'm trying to aim for 50 at the very least, still about 20 responses away - I guess I probably should have visited or contacted schools earlier but I encountered a lot of problems with narrowing my research question and redrafting my research proposal that it was July before I knew it. Thanks for your replies guys, I guess I'll try harder with the pestering and persistence :)


Have you tried posting on mumsnet? 'Anyone here working in education?' or something like that!


And how about contacting the secretary of a regional NUT (national union of teachers) or NASUWT devision. If the are willing, they will be able to forward to their mailing list with your details for returns...