To understand changes in individuals' opinions and attitudes, it would be best to collect data through panels. Such panels, however, often cause irritation among respondents, resulting in low response rates and low response quality. We address whether this problem can be alleviated by designing a panel survey in an alternative way. For this purpose, we perform two field studies where we measure the effects of several panel design characteristics on response rates and response quality. These characteristics include the number of waves and the time between subsequent waves, which may be either fixed or random. Our findings suggest that response rates and response quality can be improved significantly by surveying at random time intervals. It is then crucial that panel members are not informed about the dates they will be surveyed, because in this case, respondents are less likely to develop expectations as to when they will be surveyed again. The methodology we put forward can be used to improve the efficiency of a panel study by carefully calibrating the studies' panel design parameters.

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doi.org/10.1111/stan.12019, hdl.handle.net/1765/71747
Econometric Institute Reprint Series , ERIM Top-Core Articles
Statistica Neerlandica
Erasmus School of Economics

Segers, R., & Franses, P. H. (2014). Panel design effects on response rates and response quality. Statistica Neerlandica, 68(1), 1–24. doi:10.1111/stan.12019