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The Dilemma of Survey Nonresponse
Library and Information Science Research
  • Jacquelyn Burkell, The University of Western Ontario
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An examination of the library and information science (LIS) literature reveals that surveys published between 1996 and 2001 in three major LIS journals have an average response rate of 63%, and almost three quarters of the surveys have a response rate below 75% (the level that is widely held to be required for generalizability). Consistent with the practice in other disciplines, however, most LIS researchers do not address the issue of nonresponse beyond reporting the survey response rate. This article describes a strategy that LIS researchers can use to deal with the problem of nonresponse. As a first step, they should use methodological strategies to minimize nonresponse. To address nonresponse that remains despite the use of these strategies, researchers should use one of the following strategies: careful justification of a decision simply to interpret survey results despite nonresponse, limiting survey conclusions in recognition of potential bias due to nonresponse, or assessing and correcting for bias due to nonresponse.

Citation Information
Burkell, J.A. (2003). The dilemma of survey nonresponse. Library and Information Science Research, 25(3), 239-263.