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Resources :: Guide :: Data collection :: Data collection methods :: Surveys


Surveys are generally one of the easier ways to collect data anonymously, which can significantly reduce risk to the participant. Even surveys that discuss risky subjects can be considered exempt if no identifiers are collected. In fact, most anonymous surveys can qualify for exemption; see Exemption: Educational Tests, Survey Procedures, Interviews, and Observation of Public Behavior. Some studies require that participants be surveyed more than once, which can be more difficult to do without collecting identifiers. However, creative mechanisms can be used, such as having the participant create their own identifying code (though the code should not be another identifier, such as a birth date). If you have questions about your survey and need suggestions for making it anonymous, contact our office and/or network within your department to see what resources are available. If you are using the internet to collect data, please see Internet for more information. When you submit your protocol, please include a copy of your survey.

If it is necessary for you to collect identifiers, please provide the Board with justification. It is possible that the survey will not be exempt and you will be required to document consent with a consent form.

Recruitment and Consent
If you are conducting an anonymous survey, it will likely qualify for exemption which means that you are not required to collect signatures on a consent form. However, you should provide the participant with information about the study before they proceed. At minimum, you should identify who you are, what information you will collect, how long it will take to do so, and what the result will be. You should inform participants that their data are anonymous and there is no risk to participating. Often the Board will require that you provide the participant with the General Consent Form with the signature section removed, as this document covers all of the essential points for informing a participant about a study.

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