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Qualtrics Surveys in Research: Informed Consent in Qualtrics

The Qualtrics Survey platform lets you create digital surveys. This guide gives information on how to implement Qualtrics in research in a thorough a save way.

How to incorporate informed consent in Qualtrics

The following manual shows you how to properly incorporate an informed consent in your Qualtrics questionnaire.

Step 1: Assure participants consent before they start the questionnaire

Participants need to actively complete the informed consent before they fill out the questionnaire.  Therefore, you need to technically prevent that a participant can start with the questionnaire, before giving their consent. To assure consent before starting the questionnaire, follow these steps:

1. Make a separate page within your questionnaire:
Make sure that the information you provide about the research and the participants’ rights together with the consent question are on a separate page within the questionnaire (‘question Block’)

2. Create the information field and the consent question:
The information field could be a ‘Text / Graphic’ field in which you provide the necessary information. For more information on what the information field should contain see this page or contact the ethics committee of your faculty. For the consent question, we recommend using a ‘Multiple choice’ question that allows only one answer:

3. Forcing a response to the consent question:
The participant needs to select an answer before they can continue to the questionnaire. You can do this by selecting the consent question and selecting the ‘Force response’ requirement under the ‘Response requirements’ field in the edit question menu:

4. Skipping without consent:
When the participant selects the option in which they do not give consent, you need to make sure that they skip the questionnaire and go to the end of the survey. You can do this by selecting the informed consent question and selecting ‘Skip logic’ under ‘Question behavior’ in the edit question menu:

Next, select ‘End of Survey’, the option that corresponds to no consent, and ‘Is Selected’:

When you doubt if you did this correctly, try it out in the preview window

The end result might look something like this:

Step 2: Decide whether you are collecting personal data

Personal data is information that relates to an identified or identifiable individual. Personal data can consist of direct identifiers, such as a name, an identification number,  date of birth, (email)address, etc. Even if you cannot directly identify an individual from your research data, then you need to consider whether the individual is still identifiable. A combination of different variables and questions with open answers can often lead to the identification of an individual.

Participants do not need to provide their name and signature to sign the informed consent in Qualtrics for it to be a legal consent. This automatically makes the informed consent question anonymous. Besides the informed consent, based on the information provided above: do you (potentially) collect personal data during the questionnaire?

  • No, I don’t collect ANY data that can lead to the identification of the participant. Your data is qualified as anonymous data. Go to step 2a.
  • Yes, I (potentially) collect data that might lead to the identification of the participant. Follow the guidance in step 2b.

Step 2a: Aren’t you collecting any personal data? Make sure to anonymize Qualtrics data.

Important to note is that Qualtrics automatically collects personal data in the form of IP addresses and location data. If you want your data to remain anonymous, you should turn this off by enabling the Anonymize responses setting as described here.

Step 2b: Are you collecting personal data? Keep the following aspects in mind:

The informed consent procedure must comply with the GDPR
Following the GDPR, you need an active form of informed consent from a participant in order to collect personal data. Find more information on this webpage on which aspects should be included in the informed consent procedure. You can also find templates and examples from different Ethical Committees for informed consent procedures here.


Consider splitting up the questionnaire to increase participation
Splitting up a questionnaire two parts, a part with and a part without questions where personal data is asked, might help in increasing participation. Informing the participants about the fact that the survey contains questions where personal  data is needed, might cause a high drop-out rate. Each of the two parts would be preceded by a separate informed consent. Participants can stop when they reach the second part, containing the questions with personal data. That way, you can still receive (part of the) data that is relevant to your research. The flow of your questionnaire might look like this:

Anonymize response settings

Important to note is that Qualtrics automatically collects personal data in the form of IP addresses and location data. If you do not need this information for your research project (data minimization), you should turn this off by enabling the Anonymize responses setting as described here.