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Survey Tools

This page highlights survey tools available to faculty, staff, and students through Northwestern University.

Faculty are likely to seek out survey tools for their research, and administrators are encouraged to make faculty aware of two excellent (and free!) options: REDCap and Qualtrics. In using any of the tools below for research, it is necessary to obtain approval of the research study from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) before distributing the survey.

Administrators can also use these tools to support business operations. For example, you can take polls and collect feedback from members of your unit, conduct needs assessment for quality/process improvement, create registration forms for events, conduct program evaluations, set up forms through which program applicants submit application materials, etc. 
   

 REDCap (available free of charge)

REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) is a secure, web-based application for building and managing online surveys and databases. It was developed by the REDCap Consortium, of which Northwestern University is a member, and is specifically geared to support online and offline data capture for research studies and operations.

  • Available to: Faculty, staff, and students
  • Overseen by: NUCATS (Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute)
  • Cost: Free
  • Recommended for: Researchers, though using REDCap for administrative purposes is also possible
  • Login linkhttps://redcap.nubic.northwestern.edu/redcap/ 
    • Note that access is not automatic (there's a process you must complete first) and once granted, you must be on the NU network to log in. 
  • Learn more:

 Qualtrics (available free of charge)

Qualtrics is a survey tool designed to support research and experience management, i.e., the design and improvement of customer, employee, and stakeholder experiences. It offers a wide array of question types, an intuitive experience for constructing surveys, and tools for managing survey distributions and analyzing results.

  • Available to: Faculty, staff, and students
  • Overseen by: NUIT (Northwestern University Information Technology)
  • Cost: Free
  • Recommended for: Administrative or research surveys
  • Login linkhttp://northwestern.qualtrics.com 
    • Your account is automatically created the first time you log in, so you can start constructing surveys right away.
  • Learn more
    • View this sample survey set up by the Faculty Affairs Office that displays various question types so that you can evaluate whether Qualtrics meets your needs
    • View the NUIT Qualtrics page
    • Tip: Because the Qualtrics user base includes companies that conduct marketing research and customer satisfaction surveys, email solicitations sent from within the platform automatically include an "opt out" link if the message is sent to users outside your organization, meaning outside the @northwestern.edu email domain (in other words, an NU community member who uses a hospital email address will be considered an external recipient). The opt out link can't be deleted, but you can reduce the likelihood that recipients see it by inserting many hard returns at the end of your email message; recipients are unlikely to scroll down in the message to stumble on the opt out link.  

 Smartsheet

At its most basic, Smartsheet is an online spreadsheet, but offers many tools for collaboration and project management. It also supports the creation of web-based forms for data collection, so could be used as a survey tool.

  • Available to: Faculty, staff, and students
  • Overseen by: NUIT (Northwestern University Information Technology)
  • Cost: Paid license is required to set up a sheet and build web forms; collaborators can access a sheet with free accounts
  • Recommended for: Simple administrative surveys; Smartsheet is not primarily a survey tool so this is not its core strength, but if you use Smartsheet for other purposes, it may be a good option depending on the nature of the survey.
  • Login linkhttp://smartsheet.northwestern.edu/ 
    • Your free account is created the first time you log in, but you won't have access to any sheets until a paid license holder invites you to collaborate.
  • Learn more:
    • Visit the FAO Smartsheet page to learn about Smartsheet more broadly and how the Faculty Affairs Office uses it
    • View the NUIT Smartsheet page for information about pricing and obtaining a license