Best Practices for Surveys

Bucknell University licenses two survey tools for academic and administrative use: Google Forms and Qualtrics.

When you are creating a survey, keep these three questions in mind:

  1. Will people be willing to take this survey?
  2. Will the survey gather the data I need?
  3. Will I be able to analyze the results?

 Important principles for Surveys

  • Surveys that include Research on Human Subjects must be reviewed by the Institutional Research Board.
  • Surveys should not contain questions that attempt to collect prohibited Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
  • The survey should have a clearly defined and communicated goal.
  • The survey should communicate who is asking the questions and how the answers will be used.
  • The survey should have a clear deadline.
  • The survey should have a clearly defined audience.
  • Identify an effective manner to deliver the survey to the audience.
  • Each question should contain only one question.
  • All questions should be objective.
  • Required questions should be limited.  Verification (mandatory) questions should be used only when essential to the success of the survey.
  • Answers should include all possible and appropriate answers.
  • Answers should use a standard rating, ranking, or other answer set whenever possible.
  • All answers should be objective.
  • Questions and answers should avoid jargon and undefined abbreviations.
  • Most questions should be multiple choice; text entry questions should be limited.
  • The questions should gather the data required for analysis.
  • Answers must be in a format that can be analyzed.
  • Survey should be short and concise.
  • The survey should use logic to display relevant questions.  Questions should incorporate previous answers or known information.
  • Survey must be tested by trusted testers before it is distributed.
  • Survey must be tested by Qualtrics.
  • Sample answers must be reviewed to confirm that they gather necessary information in a format that can be analyzed.

A survey will fail if…

People are unwilling to complete the survey and submit their answers

  • Survey too long
  • Survey too personal
  • Survey questions unclear
  • Survey answers are missing or unclear
  • Survey has too many required questions
  • Survey asks the same questions more than once
  • Survey does not use logic to present relevant questions

The survey does not gather necessary data

  • Survey does not ask an essential question
  • Survey does not require respondents to answer questions that are essential

The survey responses cannot be analyzed

  • Too many text entry questions
  • Inappropriate text entry questions
  • Poorly formatted answer sets

For additional information or assistance, please contact the Tech Desk at 570.577.7777 or

Keywords: evaluation, forms,Google+, Qualtrics,survey