Should I require participants to sort all cards and/or label all categories?

In OptimalSort, there are two survey options that are enabled by default, but which you might want to consider disabling for certain surveys. These options are:

  • Require participants to sort all the cards before they can finish.
  • Require participants to name all their categories before they can finish.

The benefits of leaving these options enabled:

Leaving these options enabled means you will collect more complete responses. When not required to sort each card, it is common for any given participant to leave a selection of the cards unsorted. Collecting complete responses will help when you are analysing your survey data, and may mean that you are able to reduce the number of required participants.

When to disable these options:

Requiring participants to perform a task that they either a) do not want to take part in, or b) do not know how to successfully complete, may bias your results by:

  • Encouraging participants to abandon the survey, or
  • Encouraging participants to make things up rather than providing well considered responses.

When you're deciding whether or not it's a good idea to leave these options enabled, you may want to consider the following:

  • How invested in the outcome of the survey are the participants? You are more likely to get away with requiring invested participants to sort all the cards or name all the categories. For example your own team members who have an interest in the outcome of the project. However, randomly selected participants may be more inclined to simply abandon the survey, or to make up invalid results as a way to finish more quickly.
  • How many cards have you added to your project? The more cards you add to your survey, the less likely it is that participants will be willing to sort them all before they either abandon the survey or start rushing. In any case, we recommend somewhere around 30, and no more than 50.
  • How educated are your participants when it comes to the subject domain? If your participants have never heard of some of the terms you are using, you may be forcing them to make up labels for categories with little or no meaning.