Advance Letters - An ABS Approach
Views expressed in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the Statistical Clearing House. Where quoted or used, they should be attributed clearly to the author.
Finlay, David (2001) Advance Letters - An ABS Approach, Population survey Development, Information Management Division of Australian Bureau of Statistics.
An important issue in obtaining valid survey data is to maximise the response rate. This has led to a proliferation of research into the effectiveness of using various techniques to increase survey response rates, including research into the use of advance letters. Advance letters have been used widely in survey research as a way of increasing survey participation and reducing the number of required contacts with respondents to obtain a full response to the survey.
This paper aims to provide an insight into the important principles, or factors, underpinning advance letters by examining the advance letter as part of a highly specialised form of conversation between the interviewer (or researcher) and the respondent. Considering these factors can produce a framework for assessing and developing advance letters. This paper incorporates a brief summary of previous research examining the effectiveness of advance letters and describes some qualitative examples from ABS experience with applying such a framework to the development of an advance letter for the Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation (SEAS).