Cutoff rules tell Ask when to stop sending survey invitations. Technically, cutoff rules are optional. However, if they are not set, the survey would run indefinitely. Most surveys will use cutoff rules, and Ask has several ways to define them.

Sending Survey Invitations

Before defining cutoff rules, you must understand how the Ask tool chooses how many phone numbers to invite to the survey.

Once a survey is started, Ask sends invitations to an initial batch of phone numbers. Ask automatically determines the size of the initial batch based on the cutoff rules. As data collection progresses, Ask sends invitations to additional phone numbers that weren’t included in the initial batch. Ask automatically attempts to contact phone numbers so manually sending more invitations is unnecessary. Ask will invite as many phone numbers as needed to achieve the cutoff rules, without exceeding the rules.

The pace of sending out invitations will vary. At the beginning of the data collection period, Ask will deploy a large number of invitations. Toward the end of data collection, the pace of invitations will slow down proportionately based on the number of completed interviews and cutoff rules.

Types of Cutoff Rules

Ask has two types of cutoff rules.

Number of Total Interviews: Enter the total number of successful interviews that need to be obtained. By default, a “successful” interview is one where the respondent completes at least one NCD question. For example, if you enter “500,” then Ask will send invitations until 500 successfully are reached. You can also select an option for partial interviews to count toward cutoff rules.

Quotas Filled: You can also specify that the survey should stop only after all quotas are met. A quota is a subgroup of the population, such as “women 18-29 years old”. Ask allows you to specify a minimum number of successful interviews from each quota group. For example, you can specify 300 from “women 18-29”, 500  from “women 30-39,” 500 from “women 40-49,” and so on. The Ask tool will provide guidance on setting up quotas.

Important note: You can only set quotas based on the questions that the questionnaire already has. For this reason, set quotas after the questionnaire has been created.

Number of Cutoff Rules

One or more cutoff rules can be set. If one cutoff rule is set, the survey will end when that cutoff rule is met. But more than one cutoff rule can be set. For example, a requirement of 5,000 successful interviews can be set and that female respondents complete at least 2,000 interviews.