Control access to surveys but keep the results anonymous

Posted by John Kleeman

When delivering a course evaluation survey or an employee engagement survey, it’s usually best to make the survey anonymous, as this will encourage people to answer candidly and so give you the feedback you want.  But how do you make the results anonymous yet still control who can take the survey and ensure they can only take it once?

Questionmark Perception lets you make a survey anonymous as one of the options when creating the assessment.

Anonymous setting screenshot

What some Questionmark users don’t know is that even if a survey is anonymous, you can still schedule people to it individually, as shown in the diagram below.

All the scheduling capabilities of Questionmark (who can take the survey, when they can do it, limiting to a single attempt) work normally with an anonymous survey. It’s just that the assessment delivery software doesn’t store the person’s name and any other identifying information with the results. So you can limit attempts, you can use Email Broadcast to send out an invitation to participants and you can even remind people who’ve not taken the survey to take it. But in the results database, names are replaced with the text “Anonymous,” and so none of the answers and comments your participants give will be identifiable.

You can also use anonymous surveys in a similar way when running a survey via Single Sign On, from SharePoint or from a Learning Management System. The external system will authenticate the participant, but Perception will not store the identities of people with their results, and so instructors and other reporting users will see the answers and comments as anonymous.

If you are relying on this, you should check it for yourself:  Take a dummy survey and confirm that you cannot see the results when reporting. One thing to be aware of is Special fields, which can sometimes contain identifying information.  There is a system setting  that lets you control whether these are captured for anonymous surveys. (Questionmark Software Support Plan customers can see details here.)

Questionmark ourselves use this capability to deliver anonymous surveys to our own employees, and I hope this capability might be helpful to you, too.

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