REG 01.25.17 – Surveys of NC State Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff and/or Administrators

History: First Issued: May 13, 2015.

Additional References:
Standard Operating Procedures 
Survey Activities Calendars
Survey Registration Form (Only NC State employees and students complete this form)
External Survey Request Form (Those not affiliated with NC State complete this form)
Survey Advisory Committee Website

Contact Info: Associate Director for Survey Research, Office of Institutional Research & Planning (919-515-4184)

  1. INTRODUCTION

1.1   This regulation documents a procedure to:

1.1.1 Systematically track the extent to which North Carolina State University (NC State) students, faculty, staff, administrators and/or alumni are being surveyed, either by those connected to NC State in any capacity or by those external to the university;

1.1.2 Provide campus-wide information on planned survey activities, with the goal of facilitating the coordination of such activities;

1.1.3 Assure that those with administrative responsibility for a given group and/or substantive area on campus are informed about a survey project that involves their particular group or area;

1.1.4 Minimize the survey burden on NC State students and employees by having a central office be responsible for identifying target populations and using systematic sampling procedures to provide non-duplicating samples when possible;

1.1.5 Promote the collection of survey data that are reliable, valid, and informative.

1.2  The purpose of this regulation is to reduce over-surveying of members of the NC State community, which is having a negative impact on the ability of the university and/or its various units/divisions to use surveys and survey data to provide sound metrics for accreditation, strategic planning, program assessment, and other essential university-related functions.  This regulation will help to educate members of the campus community about survey activities on campus, and will promote the coordination of such activities (e.g., through non-duplicated sampling, combining surveys, coordinated timing of surveys; the identification of existing data to use in lieu of administering a new survey).  Such measures should help to reduce survey fatigue, improve response rates, and lead to a more cost-effective and efficient use of resources.

1.3.  NC State administrators, faculty, staff, and students wanting to survey members of the NC State community must register their survey project before beginning data collection; there is no formal review and/or approval process for such projects.  For those not affiliated with NC State wanting to survey members of the NC State community, the regulation includes an application, review, and approval process.

  1. DEFINITIONS

2.1   Survey

For the purposes of this regulation, a survey refers to the administration of a questionnaire, with one or more questions or items,

2.1.1  Where the target population includes members of the NC State community (i.e., students, alumni, faculty, staff or administrators), specifically included because of their affiliation with NC State;

2.1.2  Designed to collect information from either an entire population (i.e., a “census”) or a sample of that population;

2.1.3  For the purpose of collecting data for scholarly research, program evaluation, assessment, or similar reason;

2.1.4  Developed and/or administered by any NC State unit or person affiliated with NC State (e.g., administrator, faculty, staff, student), and/or any person or institution not affiliated with NC State (including, e.g., national surveys).

2.1.5  Administered through any mode, including but not limited to online, paper, telephone, or face-to-face;

2.1.6  Using any mode of communicating with population/sample members about the survey, including but not limited to e-mail, listserv, class announcements, social media, and posted fliers.

2.2 Target Population / Sample

The target population consists of the collection of all people to whom survey results can be generalized, or, more specifically for the purposes of this regulation, the group at NC State that the project leader wants to target for his/her survey (e.g., all undergraduates, all non-tenure track faculty, all student-athletes). The sample is the group of people at NC State selected from the target population to be invited to participate in the survey. The sample can be selected via random or non-random methods.

2.3  Campus Community

A member of the “campus community” refers to any person affiliated with NC State, including but not limited to administrators, faculty, staff, undergraduate or graduate students, and alumni.

2.4 Project Leader

The project leader is the person with primary responsibility for leading and/or overseeing the survey project.

2.5 External Request / External Requestor

An external request is typically a request from a project leader from outside NC State to administer a survey to any members of the NC State campus community. Those who are affiliated with NC State, but are planning a survey of members of the NC State campus community for purposes unrelated to their position at NC State (e.g., the data are primarily being collected for the benefit of a non-NC State person, organization, or institution) are considered an external requestor and subject to the regulations specific to such requests.

2.6  NC State Sponsor

A “sponsor” is a member of the NC State campus community who has formal responsibilities related to the target population and/or substantive area of the survey project.  Project leaders are responsible for informing the relevant sponsor about their survey project. Sponsors will be asked by the Survey Advisory Committee (SAC) to provide input on whether permission should be granted for an external project related to their area.

2.7  NC State Liaison

A liaison is a member of the NC State community who works with a project leader and SAC to facilitate the survey registration process.

2.8 Survey Registration Form

An online form that must be submitted prior to administering a survey to any members of the NC State campus community

2.9 External Request Form

An online form that must be submitted, reviewed, and approved prior to any external survey being administered to members of the NC State campus community.

  1. SCOPE

3.1 Persons Covered

Any person, either a member of the NC State campus community or someone external to the university, planning on asking any number of members of the NC State campus community to participate in a survey is subject to this regulation and must complete and submit the Survey Registration Form.

3.2 Exclusions

As a rule those planning on administering a survey to members of the NC State campus community should consider their project to fall under this regulation. Exclusions from the requirements in this regulation are listed below, but project leaders are encouraged to contact the Chair of the SAC to confirm whether or not a specific project is in fact excluded. Exclusions include:

3.2.1 Faculty and/or students doing surveys of the students in their own class;

3.2.2 ClassEval and similar course evaluation activities;

3.2.3 Surveys related to leadership performance reviews (e.g., 360 reviews, 5-Year Department Head reviews)

3.2.4  “Point-of-contact” or “event” surveys (e.g., administering a survey to those who have just participated in an activity, such as an assessment after a workshop or presentation);

3.2.5  Intercept surveys (e.g., stopping people walking on campus) [NOTE: This exemption does not apply to external requestors. External requestors must get permission for intercept surveys.];

3.2.6  Convenience surveys of individuals not asked directly to participate (e.g., asking viewers to comment on a web page [e.g., “How do you like this web page?”], comment cards);

3.2.7  Fact-based forms related to administrative processes that individuals are asked to complete as a part of doing business at NC State (e.g., faculty credentials, directory information updates);

3.2.8  Surveys of those affiliated with NC State for a specific activity for only a limited time (e.g., summer camp counselors);

3.2.9  Surveys of those in an existing NC State subject pool (e.g., Psychology course students) or panel.

3.3  Approval for External Requests (See Standard Operating Procedures for more information)

Any member of the NC State campus community who receives an external request to in any way assist in the administration of a survey to any number of members of the campus community is prohibited from acting on the request (e.g., providing contact information, posting information to a listserv) until the project has been reviewed and approved by the Survey Advisory Committee. Persons receiving an external request can either:

3.3.1 Forward the initial request to the Associate Director for Survey Research; or

3.3.2 Instruct the external requestor to complete the External Request Form.

3.3.3 Take no action (i.e., there is generally no obligation to respond to an external request; see Section 7: Public Records Request below for clarification)

  1. EXTERNAL REQUEST FORM (see Standard Operating Procedure for more information)

4.1 An “external” survey is one in which the resulting data are primarily owned and/or used by someone or some organization/institution outside of NC State. No survey is to be administered to any members of the NC State campus community by or on behalf of individuals not affiliated with NC State until the External Request Form has been submitted and approved.  The process for seeking approval for such projects is as follows:

4.1.1 The external requestor or the NC State liaison completes the External Request Form;

4.1.2 The Associate Director for Survey Research or the NC State liaison will identify the appropriate NC State sponsor for the project, and will either directly contact that person about the project or instruct the external requestor to do so;

4.1.3 The Survey Advisory Committee, with input from the sponsor, will review the External Request Form and determine whether to grant initial approval for the survey to be administered at NC State;

4.1.4 Upon initial approval, the external requestor must then submit the Survey Registration Form;

4.1.5 Final approval for the administration of the survey is dependent on submission of a completed Survey Registration Form;

4.1.6 The Survey Advisory Committee and/or the Associate Director for Survey Research have final approval on all such requests; there is no appeal process.

  1. SURVEY REGISTRATION FORM / SURVEY ACTIVITIES CALENDAR (see Standard Operating Procedure for more information)

Every survey project meeting the inclusion criteria for the regulation must be registered via the Survey Registration Form.  A project leader must complete and submit the Survey Registration Form, including the name/office of the NC State key personnel who has been informed about the project.  All information provided in the Survey Registration Form will be directly posted to and/or linked to from the Survey Activities Calendar, with exceptions as noted below.  The Survey Advisory Committee is responsible for maintaining the Survey Activities Calendar, including updating it, as appropriate, with information submitted via the Survey Registration Form.

  1. SURVEY POPULATIONS AND SAMPLING (see Standard Operating Procedure for more information)

NC State’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning office (OIRP) is responsible for managing the process of identifying survey target populations and, as appropriate, selecting samples for all survey projects meeting the above criteria.  Project leaders are responsible for contacting OIRP to involve them in the population/sample selection process. If OIRP’s assistance is not needed in identifying a target population or selecting a sample, OIRP must be informed in writing about survey recruitment methods and, whenever possible, be provided with a data file with the employee/student IDs of those being included in the population/sample for the survey project.

  1. PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS

Survey projects may include requests for public records or publicly-available personnel file information.  Separate processes exist to respond to such requests.  For more information, refer to NC State REG 04.00.02 Public Records Request. The Associate Director for Survey Research, in consultation with the Survey Advisory Committee and University Records Officer, will determine NC State’s obligations under applicable state or federal law with regard to such requests.  Upon determining NC State’s obligations, project leaders may be referred to the University Records Officer or to appropriate records custodians for further assistance.

  1.  SURVEY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

8.1 Appointment of Survey Advisory Committee Members

The Survey Advisory Committee is an administrative advisory committee appointed by the Provost. It is chaired by the Associate Director for Survey Research in the Office of Institutional Research and Planning. Current membership is provided on the Survey Advisory Committee website via the link under “Additional References” above. The Committee is reappointed annually at the discretion of the Provost.

8.2 Duties

The Survey Advisory Committee is charged with developing mechanisms for tracking survey activities on campus, helping to inform the campus community about survey activities and best practices in survey methods, and promoting efficiencies in campus survey activities.