The main purpose of this article is to provide a diverse range of positive evidence that refutes groundless arguments against mail surveys. A versatile set of methodological studies are employed to clarify key factors: return rate, length of time required to conduct surveys, cost requirements, answers by proxy respondents, and ability to obtain straightforward answers. Consequently, the author shows that mail surveys are recognized by most respondents as a survey method that is easy to respond to, simple to participate in, and convenient for filling out and submitting a questionnaire. Furthermore, this work introduces several successful cases of converting methodology from personal interviews or drop-off/pick-up surveys to mail surveys, as well as using these methods together. In particular, the author emphasizes the need for further discussion to clarify the definitions of technical terms, to concretely describe the survey processes used for research papers, and to eventually standardize the quality of survey results so that systematic reviews can be conducted sometime in the very near future.
Little research efforts have been paid to mail survey methodology in a study of survey research. Crucial weakness in mail survey has been low response rate. Many factors have been utilized to boost response rate in Western societies. But little research has been carried out in Japan, though recently a little more effort has been paid to this research. Some results of experiments to boost response rate are presented in this report. It has been shown that cover letter in green color and reminder card have positive effect on response rate. Content of cover letter has no effect, but content of reminder card emphasizing the importance of the study has a little positive effect. Response rate for persons who received questionnaire at their work place is larger than those who received questionnaire at their home address..
The current response rates of mail surveys conducted by Asahi Shimbun are typically above 75 percent. A major contributing factor of these high response rates is the respect that Asahi Shimbun commands. However, the response rates of our face-to-face surveys are about 15 percent lower than those of mail surveys. This paper provides new findings and presents many potential factors influencing mail surveys. Response rates are less affected by the survey topic if we use the same operational details. The response rates of three recent mail surveys are 78% (topic: Trust), 77% (Health), and 79% (Politics). Further, three characteristic curves of cumulative returns are very similar. However, members of the sample who have an interest in the topics respond faster than people who answer surveys as a result of effective follow-ups and incentives. Effective strategies for offering incentives yield higher response rates and lower the effect of topic interest.