Myths and realities of respondent engagement in online surveys

Theo Downes-Le Guin, Reg Baker, Joanne Mechling and Erica Ruyle

Market Strategies International 1


As online surveys and panels have matured, researchers have raised concerns about the effect of long, onerous, poorly designed and simply dull surveys. Poor survey design demonstrably increases undesirable respondent behaviours that include speeding, random responding and premature termination. Over time an accumulation of flawed surveys affects participation rates across studies and degrades industry credibility. This effect is magnified in access panels, which provide an opportunity for repeated negative exposures to panellists who become savvy to, and potentially manipulative of, sub-standard survey designs.