Guidelines & policy statements
Last updated: Monday, 19-Nov-2012 10:58:04 GMT
This page contains a number of guidelines and policy statements about conducting web/e-mail surveys at the University of Aberdeen. Please read these carefully before conducting your survey.
Any surveys conducted at the University must adhere to the Data Protection Act. In addition, it is recommended that surveys are conducted anonymously. The features within the SNAP survey tool allow response rates and other statistics to be evaluated without compromising data protection.
Surveys conducted at the University of Aberdeen must be available to those with physical and visual impairments. To ensure that University surveys meet this criterion, a SNAP template has been created which complies with the Disability Discrimination Act. This is available from the downloads section and is highly recommended.
These guidelines have been developed to ensure that surveys are conducted fairly, sensibly and comply with the regulations given in the University IT terms and conditions. Please consider these guidelines carefully - they should improve your survey results!
The University of Aberdeen has a license for SNAP professional. SNAP is a useful tool for creating web surveys and is free to University staff and students. It is available to download from www.abdn.ac.uk/local/download.
The graphical design of surveys can have a dramatic effect on the response rate. Considerations must also be given to customers with visual impairments. As a result, we highly recommend that you use the supplied SNAP template available from the downloads section. If you wish to make your own template, you should consult the SNAP user guide, also available from the downloads section to ensure your survey meets the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) criteria.
The timing of surveys is very important to ensure that recipients are not bombarded with survey requests. Response rates can be dramatically reduced due to an effect called survey fatigue if recipients are requested to complete multiple surveys at the same time. To avoid survey fatigue, surveys should be submitted in advance using the online booking form.
By using SNAP / SNAP online, recipients of University surveys will be automatically contacted by e-mail. The e-mail will contain a link specifically designed for that individual. This allows a record to be obtained of how many people complete the survey. This data is stored separately from the survey responses and permits the anonymity of the survey to be retained. There is no way of combining recipient data with individual surveys.
A SNAP .mdf is available under the downloads section. It contains a number of questions that have been used in previous surveys. Survey developers can use this file to select appropriate questions for their surveys or gear their questions away from being similar to anything that has been asked before.
Surveys are not permitted during examination and revision periods. This is to ensure students and staff have as little distraction as possible. The online booking system will not allow surveys to be conducted during these periods. It is also advised that survey requests are avoided for the week before and the week after examination and revision periods.
It is advised that surveys of either staff or students should not be conducted during vacation times as the likelihood of response is low. Such times can be viewed on the university calendar, available from www.abdn.ac.uk/students/term-dates.php.
Ideally, surveys should not be started within one week of any previous survey. This ensures that survey recipients do not feel that they are being bombarded with survey requests which can affect the response rates.
Survey fatigue occurs when recipients either receive multiple requests for surveys or are asked the same questions in different surveys. To avoid survey fatigue, consider combining surveys or running your survey every other year.
In any survey, the anonymity of the recipients should be preserved as much as possible. This ensures that the responses received remain as genuine as possible. The SNAP software contains functionalty which preserves anonymity. However, survey recipients may be asked for some personal information such as their name provided that it is not compulsory and they are advised as such. The following text can be used in the introductory e-mail to survey recipients:
Research has shown that incentives (financial or otherwise) have a negligible effect on survey response rates. Surveys conducted by the University are not permitted to offer incentives. This includes guaranteed financial rewards and prize draws.
No more than two reminders should be sent to survey recipients. Research shows that response rates show little improvement after the second reminder is sent. In addition, reminders should not be sent to those who have completed the survey. This can be achieved through use of the SNAP software.
To enhance the response rates to surveys, the following e-mail reminder schedule is recommended.
You can have SNAP automatically send reminders to your recipients using the above schedule.
Each survey recipient will receive an e-mail link specifically for them. These links should not be forwarded as they contain the data for that individual. Forwarding these links will affect the responses that are received and invalidate the survey. You can use the following text on your introductory e-mail to inform your recipients:
SNAP is the recommended tool for creating your surveys and viewing the results. Instructions for using SNAP can be found in the downloads section. If you wish, you can upload your survey results onto this website for others to view. You may also find the statistical package SPSS useful for interpreting your results. Both SNAP and SPSS are available for University students and staff from www.abdn.ac.uk/local/download.