If you think you get low response rates for research participants at science centers, try recruiting first-and second-year non-science-major undergrads in the summer. So far, since posting my first flyers in May, I have gotten 42 people to even visit the eligibility survey (either by Quick Response/QR code or by tinyurl), and a miserable 2 have completed my interview. I only need 18 participants total!

Since we’re a research outfit, here’s the breakdown of the numbers:

Action Number Percentage of those viewing survey
Visit eligibility survey 42 100
Complete eligibility survey 18 43
Schedule Interview 5 12
Complete Interview 2 5

Between scheduling and completing, I’ve had 2 no shows, and 1 who was actually an engineering major and didn’t read the survey correctly. I figure that of the people who visit the survey and don’t complete it, most figure out they are not eligible (and didn’t read the criteria on the flyer), which is ok.

What is baffling and problematic is the low percentage who complete the survey but then don’t respond to schedule an interview – the dropoff from 18 to 5. I can only figure that they aren’t expecting, don’t find, or don’t connect the Doodle poll I send via email with available time slots. It might go to junk mail, or it may not be clear what the poll is about. There’s a section at the end of the eligibility survey to let folks know there is a doodle poll coming, and I’ve sent it twice to most folks who haven’t responded. I’m not sure what else I can do, short of telephoning people who give me phone numbers. I think that’s my next move, honestly.

Then there’s the no-shows, which is just plain rude. One did email me later and ask to reschedule; that interview did get done. Honestly, this part of “research” is no fun; it’s just frustrating. However, this week is the week before school starting in these parts; I will probably soon set up a table in the Quad with my computer and recruit and schedule people there. Might not solve the no-show problem, but if I can get 100 people scheduled, if half of them no-show, I’ll have a different, much better, problem – cancelling on everyone else! I’m also asking friends who are instructors to let their classes know about the project.

On a side note to our regular readers, as it’s been almost a year of blogging here, we’re refining the schedule a bit. Starting in October, you should see posts about the general Visitor Center research activities by any number of us on Mondays. Wednesdays and Fridays will most often be about student projects for theses and such. Enjoy, and as always, let us know what you think!


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