Eun-hee Shin

Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Blaine R. Worthen


The study examined (a) which single technique (cover letter sponsorship, personalization, anonymity, or appeal) is most effective in increasing response rates with mail questionnaires, and (b) which combination of these selected techniques is most effective in increasing such response rates. Questionnaires concerning faculty evaluation were sent to a national sample of professors.

The present study found that identification of a university as the sponsor of the survey resulted in a significantly higher response rate than that obtained when the survey was sponsored by a private research institute. There was a significant increase in response rates when the cover letter was personalized, as opposed to an unpersonalized form letter. There were no significant differences in response rates attributable to (a) wether respondents were assured anonymity, and (b) the type of appeal used in the cover letter (personal or professional appeal). No significant interactions were found among any of the four techniques investigated. It was concluded from this study that judicious selection of the survey sponsor and use of cover letter personalization can improve the response rates of a mail questionnaire significantly, at least with the type of population and questionnaire significantly, at least with the type of population and questionnaire topic used in this study.



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