Survey Research & Design

Information and tools to support effective assessment and evaluation studies

Do you want to run a survey?

University Decision Support is here to help! There are a few steps to consider when planning a survey of our university community.

Planning your survey audience

Survey participation must be free from coercion. Survey administrator(s) must notify the participants that their participation is voluntary and they are free to opt out of their research study without penalty.

To assure the protection of human subjects and to comply with federal law, survey administrator(s) are responsible for following Northeastern University Institutional Review Board (IRB) processes. All human participant research conducted by Northeastern University investigators, students, and staff, and any others conducting research at Northeastern or utilizing Northeastern resources, must seek prior approval of IRB.

Is there a privacy policy in place?

Survey administrator(s) must state clearly in instructions whether the survey is anonymous or confidential. If identifying information needs to be collected, it must be explicitly requested as an item on the survey, so as to not give the impression that the survey is anonymous.

If survey subjects are promised anonymity, the researcher(s) must ensure that identifying information will not be collected or stored in a way that it can be connected to survey individual responses.

If survey subjects are promised confidentiality, the researcher(s) must make every effort to guard sensitive information and prevent anyone outside of the project from connecting individual responses with their identities.

The survey must include “contact information” (name, email address, telephone number) should the respondents have any questions about the study.

Timing your survey

In recent years, the university has seen a significant increase in the use of survey research. In our efforts to coordinate the administration of institutional surveys involving students, faculty, and staff at the University, we created a Survey Calendar.

If you are planning a survey, we encourage you to check the calendar to avoid potential conflict with other surveys and to help minimize “survey fatigue” among our students. Please contact to have your survey added to this calendar.

Keep in mind

Due to the high volume of surveys administered at NU, this policy prohibits the distribution of surveys via mass outlets such as blast emails and the MyNortheastern portal. That communication is reserved for institutional surveys that take priority for our students and are key to university-wide assessment.

Incentive guidelines

Northeastern doesn’t offer monetary incentives for survey completion at this time. Please note that in case special permission to use incentives is granted, all University Decision Support employees including student employees, Senior Vice-Provosts, Senior Vice-Presidents, Deans, the Provost, and the President, and other parties involved in the survey’s design and administration will not be eligible to win survey incentive prizes. The immediate families (parents, children, and siblings) of all persons listed here are also ineligible for survey incentive prizes.