The total design method (TDM) is an approach to obtaining response to surveys. Under this approach, social exchange theory is used to identify ways to improve the quantity and quality of survey response by organizing the data collection process in a way that increases trust that the rewards of responding will be seen by the respondents as outweighing the costs of doing so. The TDM was developed by Don A. Dillman, in 1978, as a general framework for designing both mail and telephone surveys, but it is most identified with developing and implementing surveys by mail. In recent years, it has been recast as the tailored design method and applied to the design of Internet and mixed-mode surveys as well as postal surveys.
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