• Article

Does response rate matter?


Carley-Baxter, L., Hill, C., Roe, D., Twiddy, S. E., Baxter, R., & Ruppenkamp, J. (2009). Does response rate matter? Journal editors use of survey quality measures in manuscript publication decisions. Survey Practice, October.


Response rates are widely reported to have decreased for many types of surveys over the past decade, especially for random-digit-dial (RDD) surveys (e.g., Curtin, Presser, & Singer, 2005; Steeh et al., 2001). One outgrowth of this major decline of response rates (particularly problematic for RDD studies) is anxiety among scholars in the social science research community about the validity of analysis of data from surveys with low response rates; at what point, for example, are these surveys judged to be unacceptable as valid research due to their low response rates? And, not coincidentally, will journal editors increasingly reject manuscripts that are based on surveys with low response rates? Or, will major journals instead expand their publication standards to include multiple measures of nonresponse bias and data quality rather than focusing solely on response rates? More simply, do low response rates matter at all (yet) to journal editors in the social science, health, and statistics fields?