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Finding participants

If someone wants to take part in a survey, he or she needs to know the URL (web address) of the online questionnaire. The URL of your survey can be looked up at Creating and Designing the Questionnaire. You can find more details on this in the chapter: “The link to your questionnaire”.

There are numerous options to publish survey invites and gather participants.

The easiest way is to make use of a (commercial) panel with existing users.

Another way is advertising via online banners, which can be placed on target group specific websites and include a direct link to the survey.

But even for researches working on a budget (or rather, wihout any budget at all), there are ways to gather a respectable sample, for instance via posts in web forums or blogs. It´s recommended to ask the webmaster before you publish your link there, though.

In general, whatever method you use, you should not expect to get a sample which is representative of the total population. On the Internet, you will largely find young people of ages between 14 and 35 (almost 100% of this age group is using the Internet).

How to effectively invite participants

(Online) invitations which are meant to recruit participants should be composed carefully. The willingness to take part in an “interesting survey” for a “new field of research” is generally rather high; in contrast, the request “I urgently need participants to complete my bachelor degree” is not likely to motivate potential respondents.(Optimize survey invitation cover letter).

In addition, the first page of any questionnaire strongly influences the total response rate. A short, neatly formatted text with a maximum of two paragraphs and the official logo of a university or a company signal a high-quality survey. On the contrary, an overly long wall of introduction text or seemingly never-ending batteries of items for single questions tend to scare respondents away. The same is true for an unprofessional layout (e.g. a centered text with lots of words highlighted with a bold font). (Tips for the Survey Design).

Therefore, you should take great care in designing the questionnaire and the cover letter. If you don´t have time for a real pretest of the whole survey, at least share the cover letter with colleagues or friends (“does this sound exciting”?) to find out whether it is effective.

Mailing List

Access to a mailing list (for instance, one containing all students of your university) makes the recruiting of survey respondents much easier. However, you should not overestimate this option. More than 3-10% response rate are not to be expected. From a methodological standpoint, you also need to be aware of the quite homogenic sample this generates.

Under no circumstances should you (mis)use third party mailing lists without proper authorization - that´s not only bad style, in the worst case you can render yourself liable to prosecution.

E-Mail Addresses

By allocating serial numbers to each e-mail address, you can make sure that each person on your list only participates once.(Access restrictions).

oFb can be used to send serial e-mails to individual recipients ( Sending serial e-mails). Alternatively, you can revert to Microsoft Outlook and Word, or a similar program.

However, you should take great care never to include each e-mail address from your list in a single e-mail - neither as direct recipients nor via the CC or BCC option.

Social Web

Twitter, Facebook, blogs and co. are obviously another option to recruit participants for your survey. But you should note the often quite homogenic sample and not generally expect a great response rate.

Unless you are a star blogger with hundreds upon hundreds of regular readers, it doesn´t make much sense to use your own blog to recruit participants. It is a viable strategy, however, to publish the URL of your survey in a popular blog – of course, with asking the blog author(s) for permission beforehand.

Specific platforms

Certain webpages and blogs collect, publish, and discuss links to scientific studies for certain topics. On those online platforms, one can often reach people who are interested in surveys and in science in general. The potential response rate largely depends on the overall traffic of the respective website, however.

Note: The following services target German respondents. Please let us know, if you know about more platforms.

Forums & message boards

Very good chances to recruit small samples are also offered by internet forums and message boards. Should you find a forum with a reasonable amount of visitors and daily user activity, which also relates to the topic of your survey, you can easily recruit 20-50 respondents - even more if you are dealing with a really huge forum.

However, before you post an invitation to your survey in a forum, you should by all means ask the forum moderator or administrator for permission. That way, you ensure that your post will not be deleted as spam, and it also gives you the chance on a prominent placement of your survey invitation, if the moderator is willing to endorse your research.

In the case a moderator declines your request, you should accept this and move on to another forum, but not without kindly asking for an explanation. This might help you to address the next forum moderator more effectively.

Editorial websites

Sometimes, you even get the chance to publish the link to your survey on a professional website or magazine. If you have an interesting topic and a professionally designed questionnaire, it is not unheard of that even newspapers, magazines or big communities are willing to collaborate with you.

With a bit of luck, the participants of your survey are even representative for the users of the website in general. In either case, this allows you to gather really huge samples.

en/survey/participants.txt · Last modified: 16.09.2019 21:35 by admin
 
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