The Effect of a Preliminary Notification Letter on Response to a Postal Survey of Young People

Stephen Taylor
Research International
Peter Lynn
Surrey Methods Centre, SCPR


Preliminary notification letters

The use of a preliminary notification letter is a survey-design feature which has been reported in the literature to boost response. Such letters, sometimes called advance letters or pre-notice letters,  are designed to inform the sample member that a survey is about to take place and to ask for the sample member's co-operation with the forthcoming survey.

Evidence suggests that a letter sent out a week or so before questionnaires can improve response by as much as 4%-6% (Duncan 1979; Fox et al. 1988; Heberlein & Baumgartner 1979; Linsky 1975; Scott 1961) even when it replaces one of the reminder mailings (Dillman et al. 1995).