Back after a long pause. Panel surveys traditionally interview respondents at regular intervals, for example monthly or yearly. This interval is mostly chosen for practical reasons: interviewing people more frequently would lead to a large respondent burden, and a burden on data processing and dissemination. For these practical reasons, panel surveys often space their interviews one year apart. Many of the changes (e.g. changes in household composition) we as researchers are interested in occur slowly, and annual interviews suffice to capture these changes.
Frauke Kreuter once commented on a presentation I gave that I should really be looking at sequence analysis for studying attrition in panel surveys. She had written an article on the topic with Ulrich Kohler ( here ) in 2009, and as of late there are more people exploring the technique (e.g. Mark Hanly at Bristol, and Gabi Durrant at Southampton ).
I am working on a project on attrition in the British Household Panel, and linking attrition errors to measurement errors.
One of the greatest challenges in survey research are declining response rates. Around the globe, it appears to become harder and harder to convince people to participate in surveys. As to why response rates are declining, researchers are unsure. A general worsening of the ‘survey climate’, due to increased time pressures on people in general, and direct marketing are usually blamed.
This year’s Nonresponse workshop was held in London last week.
Mixed-mode research is still a hot topic among survey methodologists. At least at about every meeting I attend (some selection bias is likely here). Although we know a lot from experiments in the last decade, there is also a lot we don’t know. For example, what designs reduce total survey error most? What is the optimal mix of survey modes when data quality and survey costs are both important? And, how can we compare mixed-mode studies across time, or countries, when the proportions of mode assignments changes over time or vary between countries?
Some colleagues in the United Kingdom have started a half-year initiative to discuss the possibilities of conducting web surveys among the general population. Their website can be found here One aspect of their discussions focused on whether any web survey among the population should be complemented with another, secondary survey mode. This would for example enable those without Internet access to participate. Obviously, this means mixing survey modes.