Survey Response Rate

A good survey response rate is the ultimate goal as it can provide you with higher data quality and accuracy. You do not want people to drop out mid-survey, because having more answers means that your results will deviate less from your targeting goals. If your survey is short, relevant, fun and engaging, doing the survey will feel like a rewarding experience. 


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DEFINITION

formula definition  In survey research, response rate, also known as completion rate or return rate, is the number of people who completed the survey divided by the number who received an invitation or were in the sample.  It is usually expressed in the form of a percentage.

How to calculate your response rate:


    # OF RESPONSES TO YOUR SURVEY

──────────────────────────────>  x100 

    # OF PEOPLE YOU SENT THE SURVEY TO 


TIP

formula tipCheck out the entire glossary list in a printable list.

The general consensus in academic surveys is to choose one of the six definitions summarized by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). These definitions are endorsed by the National Research Council and the Journal of the American Medical Association, among other well-recognized institutions. They are:

  • Response Rate 1 (RR1) or the minimum response rate, is the number of complete interviews divided by the number of interviews (complete plus partial), plus the number of non-interviews (refusal and break-off plus non-contacts plus others), plus all cases of unknown eligibility (unknown if housing unit, plus unknown, other).
  • Response Rate 2 (RR2) RR1 plus counting partial interviews as respondents.
  • Response Rate 2 (RR2) RR1 plus counting partial interviews as respondents.
  • Response Rate 2 (RR2) RR1 plus counting partial interviews as respondents.
  • Response Rate 3 (RR3) estimates what proportion of cases of unknown eligibility is actually eligible. Those respondents estimated to be ineligible are excluded from the denominator. The method of estimation must be explicitly stated with RR3.
  • Response Rate 4 (RR4) allocates cases of unknown eligibility as in RR3, but also includes partial interviews as respondents as in RR2.
  • Response Rate 5 (RR5) is either a special case of RR3 in that it assumes that there are no eligible cases among the cases of unknown eligibility or the rare case in which there are no cases of unknown eligibility. RR5 is only appropriate when it is valid to assume that none of the unknown cases are eligible ones, or when there are no unknown cases.
  • Response Rate 6 (RR6) makes that same assumption as RR5 and also includes partial interviews as respondents. RR6 represents the maximum response rate.

If you're looking to increase your response rate be sure to check out this list of 35 tips.

What's next?

  • Survey completion rate: When calculating the survey completion rate, the calculation only takes to account those people who had some interaction with the survey, meaning that they actually started it. We don’t count the number of people who were invited and ignored the invitation.  
  • Survey Accuracy is the extent to which a survey result represents the attribute being measured in the group of interest or population. Determining how accurate the data captured by a survey reflects the entire population requires computing the confidence interval and the confidence level.
  • Survey incentives are actually not much different from any other kind of incentive. They are reasons, monetary or non-monetary, physical or emotional that drive or motivate people to fill in your survey. In other words, they would boost survey response rate.
V
Vincent is the author of this solution article.

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