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Qualtrics: Best Practices & Guidelines

Read best practices and usage guidelines for administering surveys with Qualtrics.

Do not duplicate existing surveys

In order to avoid redundancy of surveys and over-surveying the campus population, consider the audience and purpose of the survey and if there is already data available elsewhere on campus.


  • Questions about a recently-launched service or product, targeted to the department’s customers.
  • Research questions directed at a group or limited population (e.g., a specific major or club).
  • Evaluation of a program, course, or event


  • All-staff or All-faculty surveys
  • Campus-wide surveys for a department or unit’s services or products
  • Entire student populations (e.g., all undergraduate or graduate students at UC San Diego)
  • Qualtrics should not be used by departments to replace the UC San Diego Faculty and Staff Customer Satisfaction Survey. However, do use Qualtrics to follow up with targeted audiences for specific feedback to further understand the campus-wide survey results.

Contact Tritonlytics for further Qualtrics usage guidance, assistance with survey question design, analysis of survey results and to learn about the data currently available from the campus-wide surveys. Survey data for departments is available free of cost, with drill down verbatim and data analysis available for a nominal fee.

Identify your affiliation when sending surveys

When sending surveys, make sure that your affiliation is clear. Individuals or groups should not claim to officially represent the University itself in an official capacity.


“This survey is sent on behalf of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UC San Diego.”
“This survey is sent by Jane Smith, an undergraduate student at UC San Diego, as part of a class assignment.”
“This survey is sent on behalf of the UC San Diego Tribal Dance Club.”

(These examples assume that you are an authorized representative of, or have permission from, the group you say is sponsoring the survey.)


“This survey is being sent on behalf of the University of California (or UC San Diego).”
“The University of California (or UC San Diego) asks that you provide the following information.”

Do not request confidential or regulated information in a survey

Qualtrics should not be used to request Personally Identifying Information (PII) unless coordinated with existing campus regulatory compliance and Health Sciences governance teams.

Research involving PII must be guided by an institutional review board (IRB), which oversees ethical, regulatory, and policy concerns about human subjects research. The IRB for UCSD is the Human Research Protection Program (HRPP).

For more information, consult these resources:

Do not secretly collect identifying information

If identifying information is needed, it must be explicitly requested as an item on the survey, so as to not give the impression that the survey is anonymous.

Some identifying information other than your questions may be collected by Qualtrics automatically. For privacy reasons, this information is not accessible to survey creators by default. Requests for this information will be considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on the sensitivity of the data, and may require approval from other offices at UC San Diego. Email inquiries to the Institutional Research group.

Protection of research subjects

Researchers, you are responsible for following all applicable guidelines to protect research subjects and their information. The HRPP team exists solely to help you through the process of understanding all of the applicable regulations. Start by contacting the IRB/ HRPP team every time.

Some essential applicable regulation:


When creating surveys, make sure that your information is available to the widest possible audience. There are several question types that are not accessible.

You should run the Qualtrics Accessibility Tool to ensure that you only have accessible question types in your survey. Some simple ways to improve accessibility:

  • Use a list instead of radio buttons.
  • Make sure questions are numbered (the auto-number option is handy for this)
  • Change the default next and back icons (>> and <<) to the words “back” and “next”

If you have questions about making your survey accessible, contact the UC San Diego ADA Coordinator, Melissa Williams, at 858-534-6744, or review these resources:

Comply with all applicable policies and procedures

  • Any use that might contribute to the creation of a hostile academic or work environment is prohibited.
  • Any use not required for coursework, research, or to conduct UC San Diego business is prohibited.
  • Any non-incidental personal use such as advertisements, solicitations or promotions is prohibited.

Use of Qualtrics is subject to Federal & State laws, and University of California policies and procedures. This includes, but is not limited to:

Additional Regulations:

Contact with questions or issues.