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How to Get People to Take Your Dissertation Survey

How to Get People to Take Your Dissertation Survey main image

Without a doubt, it’s the worst part of writing a dissertation. Some might try and argue that writing out all your references is worse, but at least you can lock yourself away for that and avoid the outside world until it’s over. When it comes to getting responses for your dissertation survey, hiding from everybody else isn’t an option. You actually have to *shudder* ask people for help.

Persuading strangers to lend you a helping hand and spend loads of time filling in your survey is, unsurprisingly, not straightforward. Sure, you can start by asking friends and family instead, but even they won’t all agree to help you. Worse still, some of them will lie and say they’ve done it even though you both know they really couldn’t be bothered.

So, you’re stuck, relying completely on the kindness of strangers. Fortunately, there are ways to sweeten the deal and make taking your dissertation survey a more attractive proposition to people you’ve never met before. If your response rate is embarrassingly low and your sample size needs a boost, try some of these tricks.

Grab a tablet and stop people around campus

The problem with sending people a link to your survey over Facebook is you’ve really got no way of knowing if that person ever bothers to click on it. Skip the uncertainty by taking your survey out around campus, pre-loaded on a tablet which you can pass to people.

Approaching strangers around campus might be a bit daunting, so team up with a friend. Pick somewhere busy like the library or a popular lunch spot and try to get people’s attention as they walk past. If you’re still struggling to get people to take the time to complete your survey, consider buying a big bag of cheap sweets or other rewards you can hand out to people as a thank you.

Post about your survey in our forums

Our forums are full of thousands of students from around the world, many of whom are also looking for survey respondents for their dissertation. Register for the site (don’t worry, it’s free) and join the conversations people are already having about their dissertation surveys.

Join a dissertation survey exchange group on Facebook

Another quick way to find people online who can take your dissertation survey is via Facebook and other social media networks. There are several pre-existing groups on Facebook (such as this one) which allow students to exchange survey links. You’ll have to take other people’s surveys as well as just posting your own, but it’s a small price to pay for a vital boost in respondents.

Offer a prize to one lucky respondent

Admittedly, this idea will cost you a bit of money as you’ll probably have to buy whatever prize you offer, but it could be an effective way to incentivize your lazier friends to lend you a hand. Pick a prize which is affordable but also genuinely desirable. A good idea would be to speak to local businesses which are popular with students (e.g. bars and restaurants) and see if they have any vouchers or deals you could offer the winner. Once you’ve got a prize, promote your survey on the condition that one respondent will be chosen at random to win the prize.

To increase your chances of getting lots of responses, make it clear that people must also share a link to your survey on social media to be entered into the prize draw. This should help you get people taking part who aren’t just your friends.

Do it over the phone

If you don’t require the responses you receive to be anonymous, try calling friends and family up and asking them questions over the phone. Often, people will ignore a link to a survey when they see it online but they’ll be more receptive if you start asking them questions as part of a normal conversation. The only worry is that they might not answer as truthfully as they would if it was anonymous.

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Written by Craig OCallaghan
As editor of, Craig oversees the site's editorial content and network of student contributors. He also plays a key editorial role in the publication of several guides and reports, including the QS Top Grad School Guide.

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Hey guys,
 I still need 40 more participants for my study by Monday. Please it'll only take around 5-7 minutes to complete and I'd be forever grateful! Thanks in advance! :D

Hi everyone, I'm conducting a short survey on media consumption and I'd greatly appreciate if you could participate and share the survey.

Good morning. In need of participants for this school survey. Teenage knowledge on financial literacy:

Hey everyone!! I'm in desperate need of participants for my dissertation and i only have a few weeks until recruitment is closed, it will help us to develop our understanding of mental health and you will be entered into a cash prize draw of 25 pounds, the link is id really appreciate it! thank you

Hey everyone. The purpose of this survey is to understand the factors influencing travellers' purchase intention via online travel agents' websites. Your responses are very valuable for this study. It will be most appreciated if you could pass this survey to your friends.
Thank you very much!!! :) for bestbuy, thanks for filling out this survey

We're conducting a survey on relationships regarding women aged 18 - 35 and who have been in a relationship for at least 6-months. If you or someone you know fits this description, please complete and share this survey. I'd really appreciate it.
please fill this out. this will take harly 5mins

Hey guys can you please complete this survey, would really appreciate it. Thanks

How lack of sleep effects students academic performance

Dissertation survey for men:

There is also a free website that makes sure that you get responses to your online survey if you fill out other people’s surveys in return: No need to beg friends and family, nor repost surveys again and again on forums. Instead you get a wide range of quality responses.

Great and valuable information.