The Survey Coordination Policy was approved by the Institutional Research Advisory Committee in the spring of 2012 to support high quality data collection while minimizing competing survey requests. Surveys conducted as part of an academic research program are largely excluded from this policy though coordination is still encouraged and supported. 

I. Overview

One of the key functions of the Office of Institutional Research (IR) at Kenyon is to coordinate and disseminate survey results on behalf of the college and in regards to its students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Surveys that require individual responses call upon significant time and attention of the Kenyon community and thus require special safeguards, both for researchers and respondents. For respondents, frequent requests to participate in surveys have been shown to contribute to survey fatigue, or a decreased willingness to participate in and complete surveys. For researchers, frequent or even competing survey requests from different parties can diminish response rates and make results less useful for research and statistical analysis. A poorly designed or worded survey can make respondents less willing to participate in future surveys and prime their responses to subsequent surveys in unanticipated ways. A thoughtful and coordinated survey schedule can enable everyone to get the most useful survey results for their needs without overtaxing any group of respondents. This survey research policy outlines requirements for deploying a survey to Kenyon's students, alumni, staff, or faculty.

II. Goals of the Policy

A. Eliminate redundant surveys and minimize the demand for feedback from Kenyon students and other Kenyon constituencies

  • Identify where data already exists, avoid duplication of efforts, consolidate surveys when possible, re-use/adapt prior successful surveys.
  • Review sample designs to avoid overuse of available populations
  • Avoid surveys competing in terms of sample frame or timing
  • Ensure that the research conducted on the Kenyon community supports community goals
  • Ensure the responsible gathering and storage of appropriate data

B. Make resources available for offices or departments looking to conduct surveys and ensure that collected data is valid, reliable, and secure

  • Strengthen survey design and analyses through communication and planning
  • Create a database of survey questions and website for sharing of best practices
  • Minimize the risk of creating a negative impression among constituents

C. Make survey results more available and consolidate survey results for further analysis where appropriate

  • Make summary information available as soon as possible to both respondents and other interested parties
  • Help researchers and administrators make connections across surveys to best understand topics of interest

III. Requirements of Survey Deployment

We do our best to ensure that all surveys have an equal opportunity for successful deployment. Our goal is to protect potential respondents from being overburdened with survey requests. To that end, we require that any person or group asking to conduct a survey using Kenyon students, alumni, staff, or faculty as the primary response group gain approval from and schedule deployment through the Office of Institutional Research (IR). Additionally if you are using Kenyon's resources to conduct a survey you must also gain approval from the Office of Institutional Research.

Recommended Surveys

Coordinating questionnaires or surveys through the Office of Institutional Research can frequently help you maximize your response rate. However the following are some examples of questionnaires that are NOT required to be scheduled through the IR:

A. Faculty-supervised survey research that contributes toward Kenyon students' academic progress;
B. Kenyon academic course and program evaluations;
C. Individual event evaluations collecting information on operational status and projected needs;
D. Feedback from clients at point-of-service; or
E. Forms used to collect information for administrative purposes.

If any of these descriptions match your survey, form, or questionnaire, you do not need to coordinate with the IR office for deployment. However, it is often in the best interest of researchers to consult the IR office to coordinate optimal dates for data collection in order to achieve optimal response rates from Kenyon students and other constituencies.

Required Surveys

A survey or questionnaire is required to be coordinated through the IR if it does NOT meet any of the "Recommended Surveys" descriptions AND:

A. Is distributed to a group of students, faculty, alumni, or staff outside of a classroom or working group.
B. Is being conducted by an external group or stakeholder, such as a national research organization;
C. Uses email addresses or other web or data resources of Kenyon college.

If your survey meets these criteria, PLEASE follow the steps under "Survey Coordination Process" below.

IV. Survey Coordination Process

A. Complete and submit the Survey Coordination Form OR gather the information requested on the form and call Erika Farfan at 740-427-5571.
B. The IR Office will work with you to create and/or schedule your survey. The current Survey Calendar is available on the Kenyon website for review.
C. Gain IRB approval where appropriate (almost all surveys should go through IRB). Consult the IRB Office to confirm that your survey does not require approval.
D. Administer survey.
E. File survey questions and results with Office of Institutional Research so questions may be added to the Question Library and data shared (at an appropriate level) with others. Sharing data can help to eliminate redundant research, improve research methods, and encourage additional analysis of previously collected data.

V. This policy is in addition to, and does NOT replace existing IRB requirements.

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is an essential body whose primary mission is to protect human subjects from violations of their rights, privacy, and welfare. Though surveys can have very minimal risk to respondents, they can also have large and sometimes unanticipated emotional impacts. Any research involving humans as subjects, respondents, or informers MUST be reviewed by the IRB, even if you think it may be exempt. It is always important to work with the IRB to determine the level of review your survey requires. In addition to reviews, the Kenyon IRB also offers some helpful resources for those looking to create and distribute a survey.