Distributing Surveys (Qualtrics and Forms)

Survey Tools

Northwestern provides two institutional tools for creating, sending, and analyzing the results of surveys. These two tools are used for different purposes.

  1. Qualtrics is an industry-leading experience management platform with comprehensive tools for both gathering and analyzing survey data. Northwestern has a limited number of individual licenses. These individuals are responsible for building new surveys and managing and distributing existing surveys. They are also responsible for coordinating the analysis of survey results.

  2. Microsoft Forms is a lightweight survey tool that can be used to create quick surveys and to analyze survey data at a basic level. All Northwestern staff, faculty, and students, have access to Microsoft Forms as part of their Microsoft 365 account.

Qualtrics and Microsoft Forms should be used for different purposes. Generally, the more important the survey is, the more likely that Qualtrics should be used to distribute it. The chart below provides some examples of when to use each tool.


Microsoft Forms


Microsoft Forms

Most surveys to students

Some surveys to staff and faculty; should not be used for surveys to large groups of students

Surveys whose data is used for broad institutional assessment and decision making (e.g., course evaluations, Senior Survey)

Surveys whose data is for departmental assessment and decision making

Surveys that are redistributed on a regular basis to gather longitudinal data (e.g., First Destination survey)

Surveys that are one-time or ad hoc (e.g., gathering feedback from colleagues on a one-time internal event)

Surveys that will be analyzed using demographic data or data already in Banner

Surveys that are anonymous and/or do not require demographic data for analysis (note: Forms surveys do not have to be anonymous and can make limited use of demographic data)

Surveys sent to a large group of respondents but that must be completed only once by each specific individual they are sent to

Surveys that can be completed multiple times by the same individual or for which respondent identification is not critical

The Survey Request Process

  1. Requestor submits the New Survey Request (link coming soon).

  2. The request generates a ticket.

  3. The ticket is assigned to a survey builder.

  4. If all the information is complete and clear, the survey builder builds the survey. Please allow at least 1-2 weeks for a survey to be built.

  5. The survey is reviewed by IT for Quality Assurance. This may include the creation of a contact list report in Argos to aid the ongoing distribution of the survey.

  6. The survey is sent to the requestor for review.

  7. The survey is distributed either when ready or on the designated date.

Distributing Existing Qualtrics Surveys

If your department has a designated Qualtrics user, that user will be responsible for distributing your surveys. If your department does not have a designated Qualtrics user, IT will coordinate the distribution of your surveys with you. Note that survey distribution can be scheduled in advance as long as the list of respondents has been set.

Qualtrics Survey Data Analysis

More information coming soon.