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Web Surveys

Guidelines & policy statements

Last updated: Tuesday, 24-Jan-2017 16:58:12 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.

In order to reduce survey fatigue, and to ensure that surveys are not issued at inappropriate times, surveys targeted at students must be approved by the Student Survey Working Group.

Please contact Data Management - datamanagement@abdn.ac.uk for further information.

Survey guidelines

  1. Surveys must be conducted in line with the Data Protection Act
  2. Surveys must be conducted in line with the Equality Act 2010
  3. Follow the Guidelines
  4. Web surveys should be published using SNAP Professional
  5. Surveys should be submitted for approval in advance via the survey booking system
  6. Web surveys are to be conducted via SNAP webhost
  7. Surveys should not be carried out during revision and examination periods
  8. It is advised that surveys are not conducted during vacation times
  9. Surveys should not be run concurrently
  10. Avoid multiple survey requests/repetitive surveys
  11. Anonymity should be preserved
  12. Incentives should not be offered
  13. The number of reminders should be limited to two
  14. Use the recommended reminder schedule
  15. Survey links in e-mails should not be forwarded
  16. The results of surveys can be presented using SNAP or the data transferred to SPSS

Surveys must comply with the Data Protection Act

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 must comply with the Equality Act 2010

Surveys conducted at the University of Aberdeen must be available to those with physical and visual impairments.

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Follow the guidelines

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!

 

Web surveys should be published using SNAP Professional

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.

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Surveys should be submitted for approval in advance via the survey booking system

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.

 

Web surveys are to be conducted via SNAP webhost

By using 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.

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Surveys must not be carried out during examination periods

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.

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It is advised that surveys are not conducted during vacation times

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.

 

Surveys should not be run concurrently

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.

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Avoid multiple survey requests/repetitive surveys

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.

 

Anonymity should be preserved

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:
"All information provided is done so in the strictest confidence.  Any personal information requested is entirely optional and will only be used for quality assurance purposes."

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Incentives should not be offered

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.

 

The number of reminders should be limited to two

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.

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Use the recommended reminder schedule

To enhance the response rates to surveys, the following e-mail reminder schedule is recommended.

  • Survey to be sent on the Tuesday of the booked week (week 1)
  • 1st reminder should be sent on the Thursday of week 1
  • 2nd and final reminder should be sent on the Tuesday of the following week (week 2)
  • The survey should close on the Friday of week 2

You can have SNAP automatically send reminders to your recipients using the above schedule.

 

Survey links in e-mails should not be forwarded

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:
"Please do not forward this survey link to anyone else; they will receive their own invitation to participate"

 

The results of surveys can be presented using SNAP

SNAP is the recommended tool for creating your surveys and viewing the results. 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.

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