The Effects of Electronic Alert Letters in the Time of COVID-19
22 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 13, 2020
Survey alert letters improve response rates and assure potential respondents that the research is legitimate and high quality. Pre-notification by mail increases response rates for web surveys because of the multi-mode use and increases in respondent trust. Due to the work-from-home orders in response to COVID-19, postal alert letters are unlikely to reach research participants. Thus, we conducted an experiment testing the effects of receiving an alert email on web survey response rates as compared to no alert email and variation in the alert email timing. The data comes from a sample of 1,969 university-based scientists. We examined crosstabulations, chi-square tests and logistic regressions to investigate the effects of the email alert letter. We find email alert pre-notifications are not very effective in improving response rates to web surveys. Thus, COVID-19 and other similar circumstances that limit contact options can constrain researchers and limit academic progress by restricting contact options.
Keywords: survey research, alert letters, pre-notification, response rate
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