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Survey Tools


 Online Surveys



The JISC Online Surveys service (formerly known as BOS) is available to all staff and post graduate research students. See below for information on undergraduate access.


JISC Online Surveys is an easy to use survey service, much like Survey Monkey, but with some important differences:

  • All the data is stored within the EU. Many other online survey tools are operated by US companies which means that if we use them to store personal data, we may be contravening data protection regulations. 
  • JISC Online Surveys is designed to suit the needs of the HE community.



Getting an Online Surveys account

  • All data stored in university accounts is owned by the University of Brighton. Under the university's account, all members of staff can have their own individual accounts. 
  • Surveys can be shared. The original creator of a survey can grant other people access to that survey, if they are also registered as Online Surveys users- see recommendations below.
  • Staff and post graduate research students should contact the IT Service Desk  to request a user account. You will then receive an email invitation from Online Surveys to create your account. Check your Junk mail folder if you don't see this within two working days.
  • Please read the university's 'Guidelines for creating surveys' shown below.
  • Teaching staff can request accounts for undergraduate students if they can confirm that the students are aware of data protection legislation (GDPR) (see below) and its implications for surveys. Please send the university email addresses of students you are nominating to the IT Service Desk .


Your GDPR responsibilities when using Online surveys:

If you are collecting personal data or sensitive data (see for definitions) you must ensure that the processing is compliant with Data Protection legislation. Failure to do so could lead to significant fines or institutional risk. 

In summary you must ensure that:

  • you inform the respondents why you are collecting the data, how you will store it, who will have access and for how long it will be kept
  • you respect data subject rights of access, rectification and removal, and inform data subjects how to exercise that right
  • A template for presenting this information – can be found here - Privacy Notice
  • You must also ensure that the data is kept secure, with permissions set to include only those who need it, that the information is kept up to date and deleted when no longer required.
  • You must accept responsibility for safeguarding the data in accordance with the information above.

Read more about Your responsibilities when collecting personal data in forms

Please contact if you have any questions.


If you leave the University

Before you leave the University you should either:

  • delete surveys you own from our Online Surveys account,  if the data is no longer required
  • ensure another member of your team has permission to access the survey, if the data is still required


Getting helpBOSHELP.jpg

The JISC Online Surveys service includes very comprehensive online help. Use this online facility to find out how to create and manage your surveys. See the "? Help & Support" button in the top right corner of the Online Surveys window.

Information Services manages the creation and deletion of Online Surveys user accounts, but we are unable to provide support on survey design and analysis.

Guidelines for creating surveys

1  Before planning a survey, make sure that the data you need is not already available. The SPPO web site has information on existing national and university surveys- see the SPPO Surveys web page 

The SPPO and the new Student Surveys Steering Group (SSSG) will be carrying out an audit to attempt to capture the range and details of current student survey activity and the page will be enhanced over the coming months to include a list of all known student surveys conducted within the university. You are encouraged to add details of your planned and completed surveys to this list, when it is ready.  The SSSG will also be developing a process and system for the approval of new cross-institutional student surveys.  
2   Be clear what the main purpose of your survey is and make sure you know:
  • why you are doing the survey
  • who your target audience is - whose opinion do you need most?
  • what you will do with the information you collect
  • that all the data you collect is needed and will be useful
3  If you are collecting personal data or sensitive data you must ensure that the processing is compliant with Data Protection legislation - see above.
4   Think about the timing of your survey. Are there already surveys running for the same group of respondents?  The National Student Survey (NSS) survey runs from January to April and the new undergraduate Brighton Student Survey (BSS) will run from January to February, so it is best to avoid this period when you are surveying students. See the SPPO Surveys web page for information on other surveys at the University of Brighton.
5   The Research and Data Analyst team in SPPO have knowledge and experience of using Online Surveys to deliver surveys and may be able to offer some initial advice.  If you are planning a university-wide student survey please get in touch with Rachel Bowden, Head of Institutional Research ( in the SPPO. 
6   Plan your content carefully. The shorter the survey, the greater the response rate will be. You'll find plenty of good practice guidance on the web - including this brief advice from Survey Monkey website and this more detailed guidance from the University of Bath
7  Test your survey - it can be very difficult to know whether your survey will yield the information you need, unless you try it out on real people who don't already know what you are looking for. Send a link to a small representative group and check the results. Did they understand what you were asking? Is the information in a useful form? Do the answers meet the needs of your survey? See * below for tips on creating a draft version.
8   Publish your results. Let people know that there is a benefit to taking time to complete your survey. Tell them what happened to previous surveys, particularly if it led to improvements. Let people know how and when the survey findings will be published. Remember to preserve the anonymity of survey respondents in your results.

Other recommendations for using Online Surveys

  • Backup: The service is backed up so that in the event of a disaster, or loss of service, they will be able to recover all the surveys stored. However, there are no procedures for retrieving surveys that have accidentally been deleted , or over zealously edited by their owners
  • To protect your work we recommend that you arrange some backup procedures. You can use the Export/Import feature to do this. Export allows you to export your whole survey structure - the questions. It saves the survey structure as a .json file in your Downloads folder. This facility is designed so that you can move your survey into different accounts, or create a survey template to pass on to others, but it can also be used a backup tool.

    Information on how to use it is here:
  • Share surveys: Online Surveys strongly recommend that survey owners share their survey with at least one other person, so that survey data can be accessed in the event of staff absence. Instructions for sharing surveys are here.
    Tip -  by default Online Surveys only shows you the surveys you have created on your home screen (dashboard). If you give someone else permission to see your survey they must untick the 'Just my Surveys' box before they can see your survey.
    BOS untick box.png
  • *Create a draft version: once you have published your survey you will only be able to make minor changes to the survey questions. Start with a draft version (tip:include the word draft in the survey name) and test this on a small group. When you have tested and updated your survey, you can copy the survey and give it a new name before publishing the final version.




Survey inventory - coming soon

To make it easier to use survey data and avoid duplication, the SPPO will be maintaining a survey inventory. If you are surveying University of Brighton students, you will be asked to enter details of your planned survey for review by the Student Surveys Steering Group.
The following information will be required:
  • Survey instrument: name of survey
  • Survey aim: brief description of the survey and its aims
  • Survey owner: name of the key contact
  • Survey population: who will be included in the survey
  • Survey start and end date: when you plan to open the survey and when will it close
  • Frequency: how often will it run, annually, bi-annually?
  • Survey outputs: indication of planned outputs and outline plans for the dissemination and communication of outcomes
  • Survey recommendations and findings: to be completed after the survey including information on findings and actions to be taken as a result)

 Link to the Online Surveys site

​The first time you use JISC Online Surveys, you  must follow the link in the email message inviting you to set up an account. After setting up your account, you can go straight to the Online Surveys website at:
 and follow the link to sign in

 NVivo for qualitative analysis - free training


​NVivo is software that supports qualitative and mixed methods research. It’s designed to help you organize, analyze and find insights in unstructured, or qualitative data like: interviews, open-ended survey responses, articles, social media and web content.

NVivo training is available to staff and students through our subscription to LinkedIn Learning. See NVivo 2018 Essential Training 

Page owner: Jill Shacklock