The institutional survey process mandates that all non-academic research surveys administered at the University are to be reviewed by Institutional Analysis and Planning (IAP) on behalf of the Survey Advisory Committee (SAC). This ensures survey coordination in order to maximize the opportunity for strong response rates and to obtain reliable data.
The following outlines the survey process:
Are my survey questions available in existing surveys?
IAP regularly administers campus-wide surveys to current students (undergraduate and graduate) and alumni, with results typically available by Faculty and program.
University of Waterloo stakeholders are encouraged to review existing surveys to determine if their needs can be met by existing data. If the questions or topical areas of interest are available in existing surveys, stakeholder can make a survey data request to IAP for the data. Once IAP receives a request, we will assess the data requested to see if the sample size (the number of survey respondents) is large enough for effective analysis; after which we will generate a report for the requesting party.
- Action: Visit IAP's survey website and survey repository for survey instruments and summary results.
- Action: Send a survey data request to IAP (if applicable)
If the required information is not available, programs and Faculties may want to develop their own survey. A Survey Toolkit is available as a resource for those interested in conducting their own survey. This IAP resource provides information about how to plan and implement a survey, outlines best practices in survey administration, and offers support materials (e.g. sample questions, invitation letters) to help in the development of surveys.
Is my survey for academic research?
There are two groups of surveys discussed in this section: Academic research surveys, and all other surveys as described in the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS2) such as quality assurance, assessment, administrative, program review and evaluation surveys etc.
Academic research surveys are to be reviewed for ethical compliance by the Office of Research Ethics (ORE) while all other surveys are to be reviewed by IAP. The University of Waterloo expects all surveys to follow standard practices in ethical behavior. IAP reviews all surveys according to ethical guidelines and may consult the ORE for additional guidance. The Office of Research Ethics (ORE) website offers some helpful resources.
- Action: Consult the ORE decision tree to determine if your project requires an ethics review by ORE (academic research surveys) or by IAP (all other surveys).
- Action: To begin the IAP survey review process, please send the following items to IAP using the survey review form:
- the survey target population,
- a brief description of the purpose of the survey,
- your proposed survey timeframe
- a description of proposed incentives (if any), and
- attach a copy of the survey instrument, invitation, and reminder letters
During the course of a year, many Faculties, departments and campus groups send surveys to similar student and alumni populations. To limit survey burden on respondents and to optimise the response rate, it is important to coordinate survey timelines with IAP.
- Action: Review IAP's survey calendar to select an appropriate timeline (minimal overlap with other surveys) for your survey.
How to access the survey population
Once your survey questions have been reviewed and approved by ORE and/or IAP, you will need to request permission from the data steward of the appropriate survey target population to administer the survey. Contact information for different population groups are maintained by related campus groups (known as data stewards). Each data steward has its own procedures for how to obtain contact information (names and e-mail addresses) and how to send out surveys.
- Action: Contact the appropriate data stewards to determine how to access your survey population and send your survey out.
- For current undergraduate students: Registrar
- For current graduate students: Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA)
- Alumni (by Faculty): Faculty alumni officers or Alumni Relations office
- Staff or Faculty: Human Resources (HR)
Send out survey
Surveys can be programmed and sent out to participants individually (by the Faculty, program or campus group); through the data stewards listed above or with the assistance of other campus groups such as the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), Survey Research Centre (SRC) etc.
There are a number of online survey tools that can be used to program and collect and analyze your survey data such as Fluid Surveys, Qualtrics and Survey Monkey etc.
- Action: Select the appropriate survey data collection tool that best meets your needs.
In 2016, Waterloo's Information Systems and Technology (IST) department purchased the Qualtrics survey tool. This will be rolled out by the end of 2017. For more information, contact IAP.
Send Survey Results to IAP
After the survey has concluded and following survey results analyses, high-level summary reports should be shared with IAP to be included in the survey repository.
The data will be restricted to the Waterloo campus body.