Survey Success with Qualtrics | Information Technology | University of Pittsburgh

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Survey Success with Qualtrics

Surveys are everywhere these days. It seems like nearly everyone wants to ask you something or tell you what others think. Whether you’re doing academic research that requires robust collection, analysis, and collaboration tools, or you just need to do an informal poll or create an event registration page, Pitt’s Online Survey System (Qualtrics) is the solution for you!

Better Than Free, but Still Free

Qualtrics helps you collect information in an organized way. Any kind of data—from how often you experience pain to whether you prefer chicken or a burger for lunch. It has a lot of advantages compared to the free products on the market, without the extra costs for more advanced features and with more customization and security options.

  • Easy to use. While Qualtrics has many advanced features, it is fairly simple and intuitive, so you can log in and go. The Qualtrics Support site has tons of info for quick help.
  • Secure. Qualtrics operates within Pitt’s secured environment, ensuring that data remains private and protected. It is approved by Pitt IT’s Security team and the IRB.
  • Pitt branded. Pitt themes and color palettes are available to all Pitt users, visually demonstrating that your survey is clearly associated with Pitt—as opposed to using bright green formatting.
  • Built in analytics. You can analyze your data easily from within Qualtrics. The app makes it easy to tally, rank, and report the responses, even creating professional attractive charts and graphs.

What You Can Use It For

Qualtrics is extremely versatile. Here are a few real-world examples of how departments around the University are using Qualtrics.

  • What’s in a name? Have you ever wondered why you’re reading a Panther Bytes blog at this very moment, instead of “Tech@Pitt”? Because I sent a poll to the whole department with a variety of blog names, and that’s the name that won!
  • How’d we do? When a Facilities Management work order is closed, a confirmation email with a link to a satisfaction survey is sent. It is programmed to pass along information from the work order, so the survey can be short and sweet — increasing the response rate.
  • So. Many. Options. For an upcoming conference, concurrent sessions are scheduled for each day. The registration page uses conditional logic so that when a session is filled, the option stops appearing. The confirmation email lists the chosen breakout sessions.
  • Research. For an undergraduate research project, Matt Tang (CGS ’26) sent a survey to senators and other elected officials about their thoughts on health policy. (See video above.)

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Qualtrics is an easy way to create online forms, a virtual suggestion box, strategic planning feedback, or a potluck lunch signup.

Registration Pages: When and Why to Use Qualtrics

If you need to create a basic registration page for an online event being hosted on Teams or Zoom, using the built-in registration page functionality within those apps is your most convenient option. However, there are times when a Qualtrics survey should be your go-to solution. For example:

  • You need to create a registration page for an in-person event
  • The event will be hosted on another app (like Google Meet or Facebook Live)
  • You want to conduct a pre-event participant survey or questionnaire
  • You need to gather more complex info, such as meal choices or concurrent session choices

10 Quick Tips for Creating Surveys

  • Define the purpose of the survey first: The survey’s goals should be clear, limited, attainable, and relevant.
  • Keep it short and simple: People are less likely to complete long surveys or surveys that bounce around from topic to topic. Use a logical order and tailor your questions to what you want to achieve.
  • Ask direct questions: Vaguely worded questions confuse respondents and make your data less useful. Make your survey questions easy to answer and eliminate ambiguity.
  • Ask one question at a time:  Don’t try to pack too much into a single question. Keep questions focused and simple.
  • Avoid leading and biased questions: Avoid words and phrases that introduce bias into your questions. In particular, scrutinize adjectives and adverbs in your questions.
  • Speak your respondent's language: Use language that is as plain as possible, avoid technical jargon and acronyms, and keep sentences short.
  • Use response scales whenever possible: Response scales capture the direction and intensity of attitudes, compared to binary response options, such as true/false or yes/no.
  • Avoid using grids or matrices for responses: Grids demand a lot more thinking, so people often don’t fill in a matrix accurately. Also, grids aren’t mobile-friendly.
  • Start with the straightforward stuff: Ask easy questions at the start, then move on to more complex or thought-provoking elements.
  • Create scales with a neutral midpoint: Response scales should have a definitive, neutral midpoint and cover the whole range of possible responses; aim for an odd number of responses.

Qualtrics Makes Surveys Easy.

If you need to gather information, feedback, or registration online, turn to Qualtrics and get results.

- By Karen Beaudway, Pitt IT Blogger