Why I won't take your research survey

Because your topic, "research on what makes software projects successful", is so broad it tells me nothing about what you're actually looking for.

Because you "found my contact information on an Agile group", i.e. you have no idea who I am.

Because every one of your questions assumes something so wrong about me or my work that I can't possibly answer accurately.

Because your multiple-choice questions do not include any choice that would be an accurate description of my situation.

Because you're not giving me an estimated date when your results will be available or a venue where I can see them.

Because questions like "What percentage of projects in your organization have used agile practice X" are a research project on their own, not something people can answer in a survey that "takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete".

I could go on. The main idea here is that you have to interest me in your research topic, to convince me that you have an important question to investigate that will generate new insights. Convince me that aggregating my responses with that of other people in your (inevitably biased) population sample will yield more than a collection of anecdotes disguised as survey answers.

Convince me that you aren't just ticking the "research survey" check box in the PhD student's to-do list (and I am just helping you do your homework).

Two organizations where I'm happy to answer research surveys are 23andMe and the Good Judgement Project. In both cases I know that there's a lot more going on than just aggregating a bunch of half-assed opinions. That's the kind of thing that captures my attention. I'd be absolutely delighted if "software engineering" research produced something of that caliber.

This isn't a blanket condemnation of "research surveys" in my field. It's an exhortation to you to try harder.

Okay? Thanks.

(See also: http://vitalbrew.blogspot.de/2009/10/i-am-doing-my-thesis-please-answer-my.html)
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