Ethical Issues in the Use of Multiple Survey Reminders

Journal of Academic Ethics 7 (1-2):125-139 (2009)

Abstract
This paper identifies and discusses ethical issues associated with the increasingly common use of multiple reminders in postal survey research. When undertaking postal surveys, it is common to improve response rates by contacting survey recipients multiple times encouraging them to complete the questionnaire. The ethical implications of the use of multiple reminders are rarely discussed in the literature advocating their use. The paper briefly reviews the arguments encouraging use of multiple reminders, and identifies and discusses the potential ethical issues raised by their use in postal surveys. A set of principles is then proposed for using multiple reminders in an ethically responsible way. It is argued that by following these principles, the use of multiple reminders should present no increased potential for harassment or coercion of survey recipients compared to alternative survey techniques. The use of these principles in a recent postal survey is then presented and discussed; a 60% response rate was achieved utilising multiple survey reminders in a way consistent with this set of principles
Keywords Coercion  Ethics  Harassment  Postal surveys  Reminders  Response rates
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DOI 10.1007/s10805-009-9072-5
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