Exploring the Impact of E-Mail and Postcard Prenotification on Response Rates to a Mail Survey in an Academic Setting

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What techniques effectively and consistently impact response rates to a mail survey? No clear answer to this question exists, largely because variability in response rates occurs depending on the population of interest, questionnaire type, and procedures used by researchers. This article examines the impact of e-mail and postcard prenotification on response rates to a mail survey by using a population of university full-time faculty and staff. Comparisons were made among respondents who received a postcard prenotification, those who received an e-mail prenotification, and those who received no prenotification prior to the initial mailing of a questionnaire. Data show that e-mail prenotification had the largest impact on response rate, while postcard prenotification had the least impact. In addition, the use of e-mail prenotification reduced overall project costs (both time and money). We suggest that the uses and applicability of e-mail prenotification be further explored to examine both its initial and overall impact on response rate in populations utilizing an electronic environment.