Keeping them on: Retention of panel members through engagement and co-creation
Jul 25, 13:45
With more longitudinal studies in recent years, the issue of response rate and sample attrition rate in panel studies has grown more salient. We address issues related to panel retention and ways to maintain co-operation of panel members, drawing upon our experience with two panel studies – (1) the Singapore Panel Study on Social Dynamics (SPSSD) and (2) Youth Study on Transitions and Evolving Pathways in Singapore (Youth STEPS).
Established in 2014, the SPSSD is a nationally representative panel of 5,000 resident households, tracking changes in households’ family relations, financial situation and important life events over six years. Youth STEPS was established in 2017 as a nationally representative panel of youths aged 17-24; tracking education and career pathways over six years.
Specifically, we discuss the concepts of engagement and co-creation and how they are applied as practices as part of an overall strategy in retaining participants in two different panel studies. Although these concepts are not new, more research is necessary to evaluate how these concepts are translated into methodological practices, and their implications.
We discuss how panel members are engaged throughout the research process, from questionnaire design, to data collection and sharing of findings. We also practiced the concept of co-creation, shifting away from the typical notion respondents as passive subjective, to one that sees respondents as active participants and co-creators.
For instance, to find out about the concerns of young Singaporeans, Youth STEPS carried out a series of outreach events titled “Pay with a Question Café”, where youths submitted one big question they have for their generation, in exchange for a cup of coffee. The inputs from the youths not only informed researchers of topics that youths were interested in but also shaped the eventual questionnaire. In SPSSD, newsletters containing the findings were disseminated to show how the study has shaped family policies in Singapore. SPSSD also invites respondents to submit entries to a photography competition once every two years, using winning entries to produce a calendar which is sent as a gift to all panel members.
We draw on data generated with regards to the response rate and attrition, as well as qualitative feedback from interviewers as well as panel members in both projects to evaluate how these practices impact the retention of panel members. We discuss these findings in terms of their contributions to practice as well as theory, specifically the epistemological orientations of panel studies.