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**Cover Letters for Survey Research Studies**

The cover letter in a survey research study is used to meet IRB requirements and Federal laws pertaining to the protection of human subjects

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**Areas to Address in the Cover Letter**

Purpose of the study Return date, process Confidentiality of Data Contact Information Name, address, telephone number of researcher Informed Consent

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**Informed Consent Informed Consent requires the researcher to:**

Inform participant of potential risks Participation is voluntary Participants can withdraw at any time without penalty Confidentiality of information is ensured Means by which confidentiality will be kept Participants are required to sign and date the form prior to participation

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**Informed Consent for Surveys**

A signed consent form is not required in a survey study as long as: The Informed Consent information is provided in the cover letter The researcher does not require the respondent to place their name or an identifier onto the survey There are no risks to the participant

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Survey Research Plan Before a survey research study can be conducted, plans should be constructed to determine: The process for implementing the study Selection of survey subjects Number of subjects to survey Anticipated response rates Costs for administering the survey Data collection and analysis

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**Determining the survey sample**

The survey sample must be representative of the total population Characteristics of subjects that could influence results must be identified and controlled The number of subjects to survey can be determined using a defined confidence interval and a margin of error Confidence intervals are calculated differently for averages, proportions, etc. For example, let’s say a 95% confidence interval is selected by the researcher This means, if the same survey questions are administered in 100 different studies, the researcher can expect to obtain the same results 95% of the time. Using this confidence interval, a margin of error can be defined Let’s say a researcher wishes to maintain a 4% margin of error for an item. The researcher obtains a result of 60% yes and 40% no. With a margin of error of 4%, the “yes” results could really be between 64% - 56%.

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**Sample Size Example Formula**

This formula can be used for an average that follows the bell shaped curve: Z s/2 is known as the critical value, the positive value that is at the vertical boundary for the area of in the right tail of the standard normal distribution. s is the population standard deviation. N is the sample size. This formula can be used when you know the standard deviation and want to determine the sample size necessary to establish, with a known confidence level and margin of error (E), the mean value to within . As a general rule of thumb, if your sample size is greater than 30, you can replace by the sample standard deviation s.

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**Sample Size for a Various Types of Procedures**

There are a number of tables constructed to determine sample sizes, using the power of the test, and the anticipated outcome The power of a statistical test is the probability, assuming that the null hypothesis is false (i.e. an effect is significant) of obtaining a result that will allow the rejection of the null hypothesis. The tables constructed for various types of statistical procedures in which the researcher can determine the number of subjects required to find an anticipated outcome while meeting a certain power level. Using a correlation power table as an example, the table indicates that with an Alpha Level of .05, and an anticipated correlation on .80, I would need to have a minimum of 19 subjects in my study to be 99% sure of identifying a significant finding if it does exist. Note: We will cover the power of a test and Type I and Type II errors in a later class.

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**Determining the survey sample**

A minimum number of responses are needed to maintain the confidence interval and the margin of error. The number of subjects can be calculated using the desired confidence interval and margin or error. Remember, this is the number of respondents not the number of people in the sample If a researcher can expect a response rate of 20%, then they need to survey many more people to obtain the required sample size

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**Procedures for collecting the data**

How will the data be collected? Online, paper. etc Who will enter the data? Is training required (i.e.: interviews)?

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**Follow-up for non-respondents**

Non-respondents need follow up Send out reminders, second survey In true survey studies, a second survey study is conducted to determine if significant differences exist between those who responded to initial surveys and those who needed follow ups

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Activity 3 Cover Letter Develop a cover letter that will be attached to the survey instrument. Be sure to include vital information required by the University Institutional Review Board

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Assignment Develop a plan for administering a short survey instrument. Determine the survey population, the procedures for collecting the data, etc. Answer the following questions: Who will be selected and how? How the survey will be distributed? What will the costs be to administer the survey? What will the timeline be? What will be done to stimulate the response rate?

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