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Methods of Administering Web-based Surveys

There are three different ways to administer web-based surveys on BU’s Web servers. These methods differ in two areas: your survey’s respondents and your survey’s data.

The three methods are as follows:

1. Publicly administered and anonymous

This is by far the easiest type of survey to create. Since you want anybody to be able to take the survey, no special restrictions have to be in place. You can create this type of survey using only PonyExpress.

Benefits

  • It’s easy to create and administer.
  • Anybody with the URL can respond.
  • No special restriction is necessary.
  • Uses just PonyExpress.

Drawbacks

  • Unable to verify identity of respondent.
  • Unable to restrict audience.
  • Unable to eliminate duplicate respondents.

2. Restricted audience, anonymous

This survey type is similar to the publicly administered, anonymous survey in that you collect no identifying information from your users. Unlike the above survey, however, you can choose to limit the potential respondents by using an .htaccess file.

Benefits

  • You can focus the survey on specific members of the BU community in order to maintain a consistent response base.
  • You can limit the survey to specific BU users, BU status (faculty, staff, etc.), BU department, or create a special username/password pair to distribute to a selected audience.

Drawbacks

  • Unable to eliminate duplicate respondents.
  • You must add an .htaccess file.
  • It’s slightly more complicated to create.

3. Restricted audience, non-anonymous respondent

For this method, you can use Formlogin in conjunction with a standard PonyExpress-enabled HTML form. Formlogin gets information about your website’s visitors from BU’s PH database–the same database that serves BU’s online directory. You can adapt your web forms to submit some, all, or none of this information to your tab-delimited file. You accomplish this by inserting special Formlogin variables into your form fields.

Benefits

  • Automatically filled fields give a sense of personalization to your survey.
  • Since Formlogin uses Kerberos authentication, it allows you to verify the identity of your respondents.

Drawbacks

  • Formlogin can only be used for respondents within the BU community.
  • Respondents must have a BU login name and Kerberos password.
  • It’s slightly more complicated to create.