For 44 research reports I have determined how long the survey was open, i.e., the data collection period. I picked those reports haphazardly over time — making no effort to be random or representative but simply to start calculating some statistics. With that caveat, the average data collection period is 1.5 months with a standard deviation of 0.74, which means that about two-thirds of the periods fell between 0.8 months (~3 weeks) and 2.3 months (~5 weeks). The shortest collection period was 0.1 months (3 days) while the longest was 3 months.
The plot shows the distribution of open periods together With the month in which the survey launched. No particular month seems favored.
Here are several reasons why law firms call a halt to collecting survey responses.
- New responses have slowed to a trickle
- A practice group is eager to start the analysis and find something out!
- Staff and partners have been pushed enough to persuade more participants
- The firm has emailed three reminders to potential participants
- The co-contributor has done enough or been pushed enough
- Qualified responses have hit triple digits, a respectable data set
- The participant group is sufficiently representative or filled out
- Marketing wants to get out first or early on some current issue
- The firm wants to meet the promise it made to participants to send them a report promptly
- The budget says it’s time to start the analysis (and usually a report)
The analysis and report preparation can begin before the last survey submission, but that is easier to do with a programming script that lets an analyst read in updated data and re-run the analysis with little additional effort.