Reducing Respondent Burden with Efficient Survey Invitation Design

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Increasing costs of data collection and the issue of non-response in social surveys has led to a proliferation of mixed-mode and self-administered web surveys. In this context, understanding how the design and content of survey invitations influences propensities to participate could prove beneficial to survey organisations. Reducing respondent burden with efficient invitation design may increase the number of early responders, the number of overall responses and reduce non-response bias. This study implemented a randomised experiment where two design features thought to be associated with respondent burden were randomly manipulated: the length of the text and the location of the survey invitation link. The experiment was carried out in a sequential mixed-mode survey among young adults (18-35-year-old) in Iceland. Results show that participants were more likely to participate in the initial web survey when they receive shorter survey invitation letters and when the survey link is in the middle of the letter, although further contacts by other modes mitigate these differences for the full survey results. Additionally, short letters with links in the middle perform well compared to other letter types in terms of non-response bias and mean squared error for those characteristics available in the National Register.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-233
Number of pages27
JournalSurvey Research Methods
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2021


  • Data collection
  • Invitation letters
  • Mixed-mode
  • Non-response
  • Survey invitations


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