help define the problem, develop appropriate measures, and expand our understanding of the scope and extent of the problem, such as:

• Research on people’s general attitudes toward surveys and on whether these have changed over time.

• Research about why people take part in surveys and the factors that motivate them to participate.

• Research to identify the person-level and societal variables that have created the downward trend in response rates, taking into account changes in technology, communication patterns, and survey administration.

As a part of a research program that would illuminate why people take part in surveys, research is needed to clarify the factors that provide positive motivation (such as incentives) as well as those that provide pressure to participate. As specific examples:

• Research on the overall level of burden from survey requests and on the role that burden plays in an individual’s decision whether to participate in a specific survey.

• Research on the different factors affecting contact and cooperation rates. In an era when more and more people are taking steps to limit their accessibility, research is needed on whether the distinction between contact and cooperation is still useful to maintain.

It is well-documented that the increase in nonresponse has led to increasing costs of conducting surveys. But cost measures are not standardized and are hard to come by. Research is needed on:

• The cost implications of nonresponse and how to capture cost data in a standardized way.

Likewise, it is important to periodically challenge the fundamentals that underlie our understanding of the statistical nature of nonresponse control and adjustment. This calls for a variety of research initiatives, including:

• Research on the theoretical limits of what nonresponse adjustments can achieve, given low correlations with survey variables, measurement errors, missing data, and other problems with the covariates.

• Research on and development of new indicators for the impact of nonresponse, including application of the alternative indicators to real surveys to determine how well the indicators work.



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