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Presentations including 'grace chang'

Fielding a long online survey: Evidence from the first Generations and Gender Survey (GGS) in the UK

Olga Maslovskaya, Grace Chang, Brienna Perelli-Harris

University of Southampton, United Kingdom

Relevance & Research Question

Our team has collected the first Generations and Gender Survey (GGS) in the UK. This survey used push-to-web design with online-only mode available for respondents. The approximate length of time for survey completion was specified as being around 50 minutes for the respondents.

The length of the online surveys topic has recently attracted a lot of attention from survey methodologists as many high quality social surveys moved to online data collection or mixed-mode designs in the recent years. The rule of thumb until recently was not to have online surveys of the length exciding 10-20 minutes. Recent experiments conducted by the European Social Survey (ESS) suggest that it is possible to conduct longer (35 minutes or even 55 minutes) online surveys without significant reduction in data quality. However, more evidence is needed to establish the optimal length of online social surveys.

Methods & Data

In this paper, we will present the evidence for fielding a long online probability-based survey. We reflect on the challenges and opportunities of conducting a long probability-based online data collection in the UK by reporting on nonresponse, break-off rates, and quality of responses. We also investigate the de-briefing questions in which respondents were able to reflect on how they felt about the survey. We will compare paradata for the length of time it took respondents to complete the survey with the respondents’ perception on how long the survey was when these paradata become available in April 2023.


Preliminary results suggest that despite the fact that the UK GGS survey was long and complex, 82% of respondents found the survey “not at all difficult”. High proportion of respondents felt that the survey was about as long as they expected (47%) with further 19% felt that the survey was shorter than they expected. Also, another positive outcome of the survey was that 82% of participants gave consent to be recontacted for the second wave of the UK GGS survey.

Added Value

Our findings provide evidence for the optimal length for long and complex online social surveys and have important implications for survey practice.

Session Details:

A4.1: Data Quality in Online Surveys
Time: 21/Sept/2023: 5:00pm-6:00pm · Location: Lecture Hall 3, Room 1135

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