Clearly defined and communicated survey polices are essential in a survey project. Survey policies guide the actions and decisions of those who manage the survey project and also protect the respondents.
What to consider when developing survey policies
Survey policies should be considered for matters such as:
- How anonymous are the responses?
- Who will get to see the responses?
- Who will have access to the data?
- How will any personal information be used?
- Who owns the data?
- How can the data be used in the future?
- How will free text responses be reported (e.g. verbatim)?
- How will anonymity be protected when correlating and filtering responses?
- What are the minimum response numbers to protect anonymity?
- Who is responsible for management of the policies?
Survey policies guide actions
Survey policies may be necessary to guide internal actions or they may be needed to give comfort to the respondents. Most important is that the policies are clearly communicated to the relevant people in the project. Such communication may need to be explicit, or it may be implicit, depending upon the nature of the policy and its target audience.
Make sure the policies are followed
It is imperative to ensure that the survey policies are communicated and adhered to by those people who have access to the survey project results. Anonymity policies that are communicated to survey respondents give them comfort about who will be able to see their responses. It is imperative to ensure that those survey policies are followed.