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Any time you enable a data collection form to be a survey, you are prompted to complete a form to Set up your survey. This setup form is referred to as the form's Survey Settings. If you enable multiple data collection forms to be surveys, there will be a corresponding Survey Settings for each survey/form you enable. 

Training and instruction in how to enable a form as a survey is covered in our Survey training. The material below is intended as reference material.

(info) Need help: We expect most builders will need help of have questions about settings not covered in drop-in or or on this page. Sign up for drop-in for help.

Survey Settings Topics

Intended Audience & Prerequisites

Intended Audience

  • Survey project builders

Prerequisite Knowledge & Experience

  • Basics & Survey trainings.

  • Working knowledge of the Online Designer, Survey Settings, and optional survey tools.



Base Settings

There are more than 20 settings to decide on when enabling a form to be a survey. Out of those 20+ settings, we have identified a subset of 7 settings that apply to all survey projects. We think of as these as base survey settings. We cover these base settings in our Survey training.

Every survey project builder and manager should test these settings to understand how they work in the context of the form being completed as a survey, and be able to make informed decisions about applying these settings for each survey/form they set up.

Other Settings

As builders enable their forms to be surveys, we encourage them to review the other 10+ survey settings, specifically, to determine if a particular setting would be useful in meeting their project's requirements. For example, if you know most of your participants will be completing your surveys on a tablet or a phone, test using enhanced radios and checkboxes, which you can find in Survey Design Section of the Survey Settings. Or if you applied a stop action to a question to trigger the survey to end based on how a participant responds, consider setting up Alternate Survey Completion Text, which you can find under in the Survey Setting's section Survey Termination Options, under the heading, Options related to Survey Stop Actions.

We expect project builders to do "due diligence" for any setting they enable. This means reviewing all reference materials, testing the setting and any of its permutations, and creating documentation that other users on the project can refer to understand how the setting impacts participants completing the survey and supports the project's requirements.

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Base Settings Checklist
(organized by Survey Settings sections)


Survey Status

  • When the Survey Settings are saved the first time, by default the survey status(base setting 1) is active.
  • A survey must be active in order for a participant to access and complete it.

Basic Options

  • Survey Title(base setting 2)
    The title appears at the top of the survey.
    • The title can be different from the form name.
    • Should be meaningful to the participant.
    • Should be unique.
    • For validated forms check with the publisher.
    • Needs IRB approval.

  • Survey Instructions(base setting 3)
    The instructions appear on the survey, below the title and above the questions.
    • Add brief a description.
    • Add any info participant needs to know to complete the survey.
    • Always include contact info for the study team.
      • Making it easy for participants to contact the study team to get help or ask questions should reduce the incidence of participants abandoning the survey.

Survey Customizations (4 & 5)

  • Question Display Format(base setting 4)
    The builder can decide if the survey questions should be displayed all on page or divide the survey into individual pages by adding Begin new section field(s) to the survey/form.
    • If you divide your survey into pages, the best practice is to check the box to Display page numbers to give your participants a sense of progress.

  • For 'Required' fields, display the red 'must provide value' text on the survey page?(base setting 5)
    This means participant will the message * must provide value, directly beneath below each field the builder has marked as required
    • We highly recommend you accept the default setting Yes.
    • The best practice for any survey is to clearly indicate to participant which fields they are required to complete in order to submit the survey.
    • Selecting No for this setting will likely result in more participants abandoning your survey and a reduction in the response rate.

Survey Access (6)

  • 'Save & Return Later' option for respondents(base setting 6)
    • Participant saves responses & returns later to complete survey
    • REDCap generates an code the participant will need to use to return to the survey.
    • Builders should not enable the Save & Return option, unless they are collecting some identifiable information about the participant, so in the event the participant contacts the study team to get the Save & Return code they lost, the study team can find the participant's record in REDCap and email the participant their code.
    • Builders cannot enable the option to allow participants to return without a code on a survey contains any PHI because it would be a HIPAA violation.

Survey Termination Options

  • Survey Completion Text(base setting 7)
    This appears as message on the screen after the the participant has completed the survey (as long there is not a subsequent survey that has been set to automatically start)
    • Always include contact information for the study team.
      • Make it easy for participants to contact the study team to get help or ask questions.
    • Optionally include a follow up message to communicate information the participant needs to know when they complete the survey.

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