I’ve seen a lot of discussion on various boards and blogs about making surveys more fascinating for respondents, in order to encourage higher response rates. Ideas have ranged from short-term solutions (have in-person interviewers use iPads, to create interest in the project) to the slightly absurd (give each respondent a free trip). There have even been lengthy arguments about replacing the word survey with something “sexier,” such as market intelligence or research science.
I think these arguments tend to have things a little backwards. In my own humble opinion, response rates are falling because we’ve been abusing respondents for years, and they’re tired of it.