Survey alert letters improve response rates and assure potential respondents that the research is legitimate and of high quality. Pre-notification by mail increases response rates for web surveys because it represents a second mode of communication and contributes to increases in respondent trust and study legitimacy. Due to work-from-home orders in response to COVID-19, postal alert letters are unlikely to reach research participants at their place of employment. We conducted three experiments testing the effects of sending academic scientists a pre-notification email message on web survey response rates as compared to no alert email message and variation in the timing of the pre-notification. The data comes from three random national samples of university-based scientists that were conducted during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two of three experiments suggest that email alert pre-notifications can have a minor effect on improving response rates to web surveys of academic scientists. The timing of those pre-notification messages, though, had no effect on survey response. These findings indicate pre-notification messages remain useful when studying academic scientists. Future research should compare the effects of electronic as compared to postal pre-notification on survey response among scientists, as postal pre-notification requires extensive resources.
- Alert letters
- Response rate
- Survey research
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)
- Computer Science Applications
- Library and Information Sciences