Survey response rates


I've developed a survey for my research and I did a pilot on it. So the survey was revised in the light of this. I've had a survey open for a month. I advertised in various professional groups as it relates to particular kinds of roles /functions in the public sector. I've found that the completion rate is about 1 in 5 of those who have looked at /started it. This seems very low to me and I'm feeling rather despondent about it. Any advice or thoughts?


Hi, I'm not an expert by any means, but here are some reasons I might start a survey, then stop:

1) If it isn't clear who the survey is for (sometimes I feel the survey might be for market research as opposed to academic research).

2) If I am not the correct audience (sometimes I start a survey and then realise it only applied to males under 18, and this wasn't clear at first).

3) If it is too long! This might be a particular problem if people are completing the survey whilst at work.

Anyone else got any thoughts?


I agree with Reenie and will add:

I often quit surveys if it asks me irrelevant questions. So if a survey about iphone apps asks me my gender and marital status I will immediately quit. Equally, if a survey assumes information about me based on gender, age etc I will quit.

If gender is relevant, but I am given only a male/female option I will quit. The same if I'm asked my marital status and there is not a 'other' or 'no answer' box.

If a survey is poorly worded, difficult to understand, contains spelling and grammatical errors I will quit.

Finally, if a survey says "This will take 15 minutes" and 16 minutes in I have still not finished I will quit.

That's not to say that your survey has these issues, but just stating reasons why I quit surveys without finishing them.


I agree with Reenie's points above. I haven't seen your survey, LBaines, so these are just general comments, but the main reasons I wouldn't complete a survey are that it turns out to be much longer than I expected (some people ask for 'a couple of minutes' and it turns out to be about 50 involved questions!), if I didn't qualify, or if something about the questions bothered me. This could include unexpectedly intrusive questions or questions that didn't seem fair or balanced.


Just on a light note, I quit a survey this morning in which the options for 'marital status' were given as 'single, married or deceased'!!


Eeek! Maybe a translation error?!


I don't see the issue with asking personal status questions in surveys.. it's anonymous so who cares? Also, isn't it informative for the researcher?


Thanks for all your comments and suggestions.


questions about race, ethnicity, and religion might cause people to stop a survey as well.


Treeoflife - good for you, that's also a valid perspective, it's just different to mine :-)