Survey Procedures, Guidelines and Exclusions
Baylor faculty and staff requesting to conduct a survey to be administered to Baylor faculty, staff, or 100 or more students should complete and submit a Survey Request form, attaching a copy of the survey items if available. All surveys on topics identified within the survey policy should be submitted for approval. This includes surveys administered by departments as well as those that will be administered through the Office of Institutional Research. Survey requests should be submitted at least four weeks prior to the proposed start date of the survey. This time frame allows for survey review and approval, construction and testing of the survey instrument, and collecting sample populations.
Survey requests are approved by the University Survey Coordination Committee (USCC), who are charged with the oversight of surveys for faculty, staff, and students at Baylor. The USCC will review the proposed survey and provide a response within ten business days of receiving a request form. In addition to providing overall approval to conduct a particular survey, the USCC may return recommendations for changes to the survey request for any of the following:
- Population: Surveys should be administered to the smallest number of respondents necessary to achieve a high likelihood of statistical validity, taking response rate assumptions based on recent experience into consideration. Unless a population survey has been approved by University administration, the USCC may determine that a survey be administered to a sample rather than the entire population. Surveys will be administered using statistically valid sampling methodology.
- Timing: The Office of Institutional Research maintains a calendar of survey activity. It is possible that the USCC may suggest alternate survey dates in order to limit the number of active survey invitations to groups and to avoid overlap with other key dates. The USCC may also recommend that the survey be postponed or that survey items be added to an existing survey planned in the future to reduce the overall demand on participants. Priority will be given to planned campus-wide surveys as well as those that are required by external agencies. No climate surveys may be conducted in the same term as the University Campus Diversity Climate surveys.
- Method of administration: Surveys should make clear to recipients that they are free not to participate, and to give survey respondents the opportunity to see the research results (basic human subjects research considerations). The USCC may recommend that the Office of Institutional Research conducts the administration of a survey to maintain the confidentiality of respondents.
- Survey instrument: Survey items should be written clearly, concisely, and directly addressing the purpose of the survey. The USCC may recommend changes to item language or may remove items that are not appropriate. In addition, demographic items may be removed from a survey if the design is such that those values can be pre-populated for respondents, reducing the number of items within the survey.
- Dissemination of results: All requests should include procedures to maintain confidentiality of survey respondents. The USCC may recommend changes to the proposed analyses or methods of distribution to ensure confidentiality and ensure accurate interpretation of results. If the results are later used in a publication or conference presentation, the requestor must conform to the guidelines of the Baylor University Committee for Protection of Human Subjects in Research – the official university Institutional Review Board (IRB) – and request IRB approval following USCC approval.
On certain topics, or when desired, the USCC will consult with the Office of General Counsel. This includes surveys about topics such as discrimination, harassment, diversity, equity, inclusion, criminal activity to include sexual assault, family violence, and other topics on issues that are highly legally regulated.
After review by the USCC, surveys of faculty and staff are subject to final approval by the Chief of Staff to the Provost for faculty surveys and the Associate Vice President of HR Operations and Solutions for staff surveys. Surveys of students are also subject to approval by the Vice President for Student Life. Decisions of the University Survey Coordination Committee (USCC) may be appealed to the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Institutional Effectiveness.
Exclusions. The following very common survey types do *not* need to be submitted for review and approval (unless they are on a specific topic identified above):
- Survey instruments designed to evaluate specific programs or campus services by contacting program participants or service users at the conclusion of the program or service.
- Class projects surveying students only within that class.
- Surveys to fewer than 100 Baylor students.
- Surveys conducted for the purposes of academic research by Baylor faculty, staff, or students. The Office of Institutional Research does not assist with the administration of surveys for this purpose.
- Data collection efforts within the membership of committees, working groups, or departments for topics such as web-based questionnaires/polls that function as registration/RSVPs for events or activities, web-based elections, focus groups/interviews, and administrative data collection (e.g., requesting contact information).
Applicants are encouraged to contact the Office of Institutional Research if there are questions about whether or not a project is exempt.