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Institutional Review Board (IRB): Online Surveys & Questionnaires

Research Protocols

Data Collection instruments are often part of larger research protocols that include the data collection instrument,  Find information about research protocols here:

Confidentiality and Anonymity

For more information, read about Confidentiality and Anonymity:

Disable IP Tracking

To ensure anonymity, be sure to disable IP tracking:

- for Qualtrics.

- for Survey Monkey.

Contact the IRB

email icon Email us at    

 Visit the IRB Office Hours page

Introduction to Online Surveys & Questionnaires

If you are using an online survey or questionnaire, you will need to create your instrument and have it ready before submitting your IRB application. You will provide your instrument within the IRB application so that the IRB reviewer can see the questions you are asking.

Do I have to use a specific survey platform?

NU IRB researchers have free access to Qualtrics through NU.  To request a free Qualtrics account, email your name, NU email address, and Dissertation Chair name (if applicable) to the Office of Accreditation and Curriculum (

Researchers can choose to use other online platforms as long as they are secure. However, researchers who use other platforms are responsible for formatting their consent to meet all NU IRB requirements.

What are the IRB requirements for online surveys?

Online surveys should meet the following NU IRB requirements. For a visual example, here is the NU IRB’s example online survey.

Adding the Online Consent to my survey/questionnaire

If you are distributing an Online Survey or Questionnaire, as your first or only activity, you will do the following:

You will paste your Online Consent into your survey/questionnaire as the first page. Please use the following steps (in Qualtrics). 

  1. Open your survey/questionnaire for editing.
  2. Click on "Add Block" text below any block. 
  3. Drag and drop the block so that it is the first block. This will place it above the default question block. 
  4. Rename the block to Consent
  5. Deselect the checkmark to the left of the question number. You do not need to have a question number on the consent. 
  6. Click on the Add new question button.
  7. Click Text/Graphic from the list of question types.
  8. Copy and paste your consent into the text box.
  9. Review the headers to ensure they are bold, and follow them with a space. This will help your headings stand out by adding some space around them. 
  10. Ensure that your entire consent was pasted into the text box and that is readable. You should paste the consent without the MS Word formatting as the hidden characters in MS Word can interfere with proper display and screen reader functionality. 
  11. Add the following text to the bottom of the consent: "By clicking the next button and completing the survey you indicate that you have consented to participate in this research. If you do not want to participate, please close the browser."
  12. Save your work. 
  13. Preview your survey/questionnaire and revise as needed. 

What will the IRB Reviewers look for in my survey/questionnaire?

  1. Reviewers will continue to check surveys/questionnaires to ensure consent is on the first page, and that the statement, "By clicking the next button and completing the survey you indicate that you have consented to participate in this research. If you do not want to participate, please close the browser," has been added to the bottom of the consent page. 
  2. Questions are not set to required. Participants have the right to skip any questions they do not want to answer. To support this, questions cannot be mandatory. Do not force people to complete a question.  

How do I get help with my survey/questionnaire?

Qualtircs provides a rich self-service portal. It is found at

How do I get a QR Code for my survey/questionnaire?

Qualtircs provides directions for obtaining a QR Code on their website.

How do I test for ADA compliance?

There are many tools you can use to test your survey for ADA accessibility. While NU IRB does not endorse any specific tool, we have had good results with AccessibilityChecker