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Methods for increasing cooperation rates for surveys of family forest owners

Formally Refereed
Authors: Brett J. Butler, Jaketon H. Hewes, Mary L. Tyrrell, Sarah M. Butler
Year: 2016
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Northern Research Station
Source: Small-scale Forestry. 9 p. doi:10.1007/s11842-016-9349-7


To maximize the representativeness of results from surveys, coverage, sampling, nonresponse, measurement, and analysis errors must be minimized. Although not a cure-all, one approach for mitigating nonresponse errors is to maximize cooperation rates. In this study, personalizing mailings, token financial incentives, and the use of real stamps were tested for their impacts on cooperation rates for family forest owners asked to participate in the U.S. Forest Service's National Woodland Owner Survey in the state of Connecticut. Token financial incentives, a two-dollar bill included in the first questionnaire mailing, significantly increased cooperation rates by 13 percentage points. Neither personalization nor real stamps showed significant impacts on cooperation rates. While these results are for just one state in the USA, we hypothesize that similar patterns would be observed in other states and likely other countries.


Response rate, Survey methods, National Woodland Owner Survey, United States


Butler, Brett J.; Hewes, Jaketon H.; Tyrrell, Mary L.; Butler, Sarah M. 2016. Methods for increasing cooperation rates for surveys of family forest owners. Small-scale Forestry. 16: 169-177. doi:10.1007/s11842-016-9349-7