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Quick Tips for Survey Design via Qualtrics

by Kimberley Barker on 2019-04-08T14:17:00-04:00 | Comments


This article was written by David Martin, with editing by Kimberley Barker.

Do you need to design a survey? Then look no further than Qualtrics at UVA. Qualtrics provides survey research capabilities to faculty, staff, and students, and allows users to create multiple types of questions, use logic and validation, and distribute surveys to a multitude of participants. Here within the Data Services department (Data @ HSL) at the Health Sciences Library, David Martin has experience creating and analyzing Qualtrics surveys and he has a few tips for designing easy-to-use and easy-to-analyze surveys. When creating a survey using Qualtrics, keep these three things in mind:

1. Keep it Simple

Although there are many different and complicated types of questions you can create in Qualtrics, sometimes the most effective and easy-to-analyze questions are multiple choice questions. Multiple choice questions may seem dull, but they are easy to follow, easy to create, and much simpler to analyze than their more fancy cousins. Even something as simple as a free text question is fraught with possible errors and oversights, and can be quite difficult to analyze.

2. Be Logical

                When you are creating a survey, organize your survey in a logical way. It does not make sense to have a physician answer questions that are only relevant to nurses, and vice versa. Using “Display” and “Skip” logic within Qualtrics allows you to show certain questions to specific participants, or to skip over questions if previous questions are answered in a particular way. Constructing a flowchart of how different types of participants work through the survey goes a long way towards building a logical survey.

3. Test, Test, Test

                Finally, once you have created your survey, test it multiple times on multiple participants. Enlist coworkers, family members, and acquaintances, and encourage them to try to break the survey. This will allow you to both find the flaws in your design and to preview what the results will look like, providing you with an idea of how to plan your analysis. One nice option in Qualtrics is the “Generate Test Responses” feature, which allows you to create hundreds or thousands of automated responses that will randomly select different answers within your survey.


These are just a few tips on how to create a useful survey. If you are working on designing or analyzing a survey and would like some assistance, please reach out to request your own consultation!

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