Thursday, 25 November 2010

What are response rates within surveys and issues associated with them?

What is response rate and why is it used ?

Response rates are the number of people who have answered the survey from the given number of people asked to conduct the survey.

It is usually represented as a percentage by dividing the number of people who answered by the sample number (overall total asked to conduct survey) then multiplying by a hundred.

Response Rate = People who answered X 100

Sample size

There are two issues when it comes to response rate, one being the nonresponse issue and the other being the response issues.

Nonresponse Issues

Nonresponsive issues also known as nonresponsive bias is usually always a problem for all surveys carried out as most of the time there is a difference between the sample size and the sample that actually respond to the survey.

Nonresponse bias usually cannot be avoided and so inevitably negatively affects most survey research by creating errors in a statistical measurement. Researchers must therefore account for nonresponse either during the planning of their survey or during the analysis of their survey results. If you create a larger sample during the planning stage, confidence limits may be based on the actual number of responses themselves.

Response Issues

As well as nonresponsive bias issues researchers should also take into account responsive bias.

These can be down to

· When respondents give false information to save time.

· When there are too many options to pick from and they select the first thing that enters their mind.

·When respondents do not read the questions and are not bothered with the survey so they select the same answer for all questions e.g. neutral, no or disagree.

· Respondents miss out questions.

Response bias can seriously affect the results of the survey when they are statistically represented.

It is difficult to completely eliminate response bias but can be reduced through careful consideration of the types of questions and answers offered to respondents during the design stage of the survey.


Response Rate Issues. Retrieved 24th November 2010 from


  1. When looking at response rates I think it is important to look at the issues which affect why the response rate may be what it is. As you have already stated the main problem with the recipient’s responses is that it may be unreliable or in the case of mail or online surveys there may be no response at all. I think if companies are looking to up the response and reliability rate of their surveys they will need to offer greater incentives such as cash prizes or free products. This way the recipient has a greater incentive to complete the surveys/questionnaires.

  2. I think an important factor could be the selection of who to send the questionnaire/ survey too. If you send your questionnaire to people who are never going to use your products, then you will find a lack of interest and a very low response rate, so picking the correct areas to distribute your questionnaire is very important.