The response rate to questionnaires has been limited, but not disappointingly
so. We have received over 200 completed questionnaires. Of these almost 70 per
cent were completed using the on-line form, many in response to messages posted
to e-mail discussion groups. The number of replies to the questionnaires sent
by post has been disappointing. Only 76 questionnaires were returned through
the post, a response rate of less than 10 per cent bearing in mind the number
sent out. It is worth pointing out that, despite personal letters, very few
members of related projects, funded under this initiative, have themselves
completed questionnaires! Whilst we welcome the response to the on-line
questionnaire, the result is that we have a rather greater proportion of
questionnaires from academics from outside the UK and from outside the social
sciences - although only social scientists were asked to participate.
The limited response rate may be the result of a number of factors.
- Relevant literature suggests that a response rate to questionnaire surveys of
around 20 to 25 per cent is good. The response rate here is just over 25 per
cent. However, a small number of these come from academics from outside the
social sciences. Further, the response rate here is based on the number of
academic units contacted by letter. More were contacted through e-mail
discussion groups and, of course, units contain more than one member of staff.
- Some respondents simply advised us that they did not consider themselves, or
their units, to fall within the Social Sciences. We were aware of this problem
but did not wish to pre-judge, on the basis of limited information, those units
that were within the social sciences.
- We did not request replies from units or academics that were not using
visualisation tools in their work. With hindsight we should have encouraged
responses in these cases. Bearing in mind the penetration of visualisation
techniques in the social sciences referred to later, to a great extent the
relatively low response rate may be due to the fact that so little work
involving data visualisation is taking place.
- A number of respondents commented that the questionnaire was fairly long,
particularly as we asked for completion of a separate questionnaire (with the
exception of the Cover Sheet) to be completed for each software product. We
reduced the length of the questionnaire to a minimum compatible with receiving
Virtual Environments Visualisation