Web Survey Design: Balancing Measurement, Response, and Topical Interest

Kevin O. Shropshire, James E. Hawdon, and James C. Witte Web Survey Design: Balancing Measurement, Response, and Topical Interest  Sociological Methods & Research 2009 37: 344-370.

Using data from Survey2001, we analyze how visual images embedded in a web-based survey can (1) reduce nonresponse in the specific case that a respondent prematurely terminates the survey and (2) preserve measurement validity. Page-by-page progression through the survey is modeled as a survival process with early termination seen as failure. While images had no apparent effect on the termination process, respondent interest in the survey topic was linked to early termination. These results highlight the importance of placing interest-related questions early in the survey to better control for the effects of interest-driven attrition. Moreover, these findings suggest that an interactional information system approach, one that not only collects data but also pushes relevant information to respondents, may serve to generate or maintain interest and in the process reduce survey attrition.

Key Words: web-surveys • photo prompts • survey attrition • measurement validity • interest-driven surveys • non-response bias

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