Qualtrics Data Collection

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This article outlines the ethical and professional responsibilities of all survey researchers at WSU: students, faculty, and staff. It applies to anyone who uses Qualtrics to gather survey data from any population residing either on or off campus.

Data that cannot be stored in Qualtrics

Do not store any credit card or debit card data, or data that relates to credit card transactions, in Qualtrics. (This type of data is often referred to as PCI data.) HIPAA data must not be stored in Qualtrics without authorization from the Information Security Office.

Private Data

Private information means "information about behavior that occurs in a context, in which an individual can reasonably expect that no observation or recording is taking place, and information, which has been provided for specific purposes by an individual and which the individual can reasonably expect will not be made public (for example, a medical record). If you plan to collect private data in your survey, special rules apply. If your survey constitutes research on human subjects, private information must be individually identifiable (i.e., the identity of the subject is or may readily be ascertained by the investigator or associated with the information). Consult with the Human Protections Administrator, Brett Ayers (Maxwell Hall 155, 507-457-5519, bayers@winona.edu) if you have any questions.

Anonymity vs. Confidentiality

There are important differences between anonymity and confidentiality. You need to understand how this applies to your survey, how to configure Qualtrics accordingly, and how to describe to your potential respondents clearly whether their responses will be anonymous or confidential.

Anonymous responses

Truly anonymous responses cannot be associated with individual respondents at any time by anyone. Survey researchers try to preserve anonymity in two ways: either by not collecting any identifying information at all or by completely separating all identifying information from individual responses (e.g., storing them in two separate databases that cannot be connected in any way). Even when taking such precautions, you should be mindful of some common threats to anonymity. In open-ended responses, participants may purposely or inadvertently identify themselves, either by name or through the nature of their responses. It may also be possible to identify respondents by cross-tabulating demographic variables that break the sample down into very small groups. Finally, tools like Qualtrics often collect technical information such as the IP address of the device that the respondent used to take the survey. This information may be used to identify the individual. You are responsible for managing these threats through your research methods. Potential respondents should be informed of all credible threats to the anonymity of their responses before they agree to participate.

Collect anonymous responses from an open link and be able to see the IP address and general location of the respondent. Use the Qualtrics static 'Anonymous Link'. Note that this survey cannot be restricted to take only once.
Collect anonymous responses from an open link but not see IP Address or general location of respondent. Use the Qualtrics 'Anonymous Link' with the 'Anonymize response' survey option turned on.
Email an anonymous survey to a list of participants, and allow the participants to submit the survey multiple times. Use the Qualtrics Mailer with the multiple completes per link option and the 'Anonymize Response' survey option is turned on.
Email an anonymous survey to a list of participants, send reminder and thank-you emails, and see who responded without seeing how they responded. Use the Qualtrics Mailer with the individual link option and the 'Anonymize Response' survey option turned on.

Confidential responses

Confidential responses can be associated with individual respondents, but the information is held in confidence by a defined, trusted person or group of people. Typically, the primary investigator is the only person who can identify responses. In some cases, other investigators or research team members may also have access to this information. You are responsible for communicating this to potential respondents before they agree to participate in the survey.

Collect confidential responses from a list of participants (only one response per participant) with the option of sending reminders and thank-you emails. Use the Qualtrics mailer to send out an individualized link option.
Collect confidential responses from a list of participants with Multiple possible responses per individual (sending reminders and thank-you emails through Qualtrics is not supported in this case). Use the Qualtrics mailer and the "multiple completes per link" option.
Want to use the 'Anonymous Link' but still end up with identifying information, making the survey confidential rather than anonymous. Connect a 'Contact List' to a survey with the 'Authenticator' object.

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