What shall I do if no-one answers my on-line questionnaire?!


Hi! I am about 15 months into my research &, a month ago, I issued a piloted on-line questionnaire to a number of local universities, with the usual accompanying biographical info etc. I eagerly return to the site each day, only to be met with 'Responses: 0' & now I'm starting to lose faith. Maybe I'm being impatient or just maybe people are not as keen to complete on-line surveys as I'd hoped! Does anyone have any advice as to what I should do next?
Thanks, Mog :-)


Pay them. I have seen people offering movie tickets or a small amount of cash in return for answering surveys.. There is no such thing as free lunch.. ;-)


Hi Eskobastion
Thanks for your swift response! I'm already offering the chance to win one of a number of £20 Amazon vouchers. Good thought though, thanks.
Mog (up)


Hi Mog, have you tried posting a link to your questionnaire on student forums at the universities you're interested in? When I was recruiting participants I advertised on a forum and got quite a good response from there. Also at my uni we've got an email list just for people requesting volunteers for research and I got lots of participants that way. Hope you manage to get some response soon. :-)


Hi Mog. Credibility is very important. When I have done online surveys in the past I have gained the support and trust of important stakeholders and they have been the impetus for people to apply. For example, when doing an online survey with Masters level students I asked the course leaders to champion the survey and distribute the link...it worked. Dillman also provides some excellent suggestions that I followed for my PhD. Using his work I went from 7% in my pilot to 30% response rate overall!


Hi Mog,

must be frustrating. However, I think it is not unusual that response rates for these kind of surveys is low, for which there are all kind of reasons: Overflow of requests for potential participants, questionnaire too long? Perhaps not appealing enough? Not knowing the person who does the research? Other priorities of potential participants (exams, X-mas presents)? etc. etc.

As such it may be useful to ask a few fellow students to fill in your questionnaire and ask for their honest opinion. Also, as mentioned before, if you would have access to key players, who can promote the survey, this would be a great help. Finally, think about the timing of the survey; I think December and January are probably not the best months to do something like this.:-)


One suggestion, that may or may not apply, depending on the kind of research you're doing:

Broaden your target population. For example, if you were originally only looking at 18-25 year olds, because you judged the topic to only be relevant to them, try broadening your sample to allow 18-35 year olds, and then just do a post-hoc test to see if the age groups differ in any important way. If they don't, you've got a bigger sample. If they do, well, nothing lost, just filter those responses out.

That's what I've found myself having to do in many cases.


Hi to all & many thanks for the useful suggestions. I've got plenty to do in the new year!

Happy new year to all! Mog ;-)


A big THANK YOU to all of you who responded here. I took all on board & now have responses coming in daily (up)