Altruistic donation to improve survey responses: A global randomized trial

Andrew J. Cohen, Sam Washington, Christi Butler, Puneet Kamal, German Patino, Anas Tresh, Jorge Mena, Medina Ndoye, Benjamin N. Breyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Web-based platforms have revolutionized the ability for researchers to perform global survey research. Methods to incentivize participation have been singularly focused on European and North American participants with varied results. With an ever increasing proportion of biomedical research being performed in non-western countries, assessment of novel methods to improve global survey response is timely and necessary. To that end, we created a three-arm nested randomized control trial (RCT) within a prospective cohort study to assess the impact of incentives on survey responsiveness in a global audience of biomedical researchers. Results: Email invitations were sent to authors and editors involved in online publishing totaling 2426 participants from 111 countries. Overall we observed a 13.0% response rate: 13.3% for the control group, 14.4% for a group entered to win a gift card, and 11.1% for a group whose participation lead to donation to charity (p = 0.17). Year of publication nor country impacted response rate. Within subgroups, editors were significantly less likely to respond to the survey as compared to authors (6.5% vs. 18.9%; p-value < 0.01). With power to detect a 4.8% difference among groups, we could not detect an impact of incentives on global survey response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113
JournalBMC Research Notes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 28 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Donation
  • Global
  • Incentives
  • Nested randomized control
  • Survey response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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