Administering Surveys at the University

Adopted Policy 1.10

Policy Purpose

To set forth the University principles for conducting a Survey of University at Albany Students, Faculty, Staff and alumni.

Responsible Office

Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness

Responsible Executive

Director of Assessment

Policy History

  • Date of Permanent Approval:
  • Date of Amendments:

Policy Statement

The collection of data and information through the surveying of University Students, Faculty, Staff and alumni is a critical part of the University’s academic and student experience review, evaluation and improvement process as well as an integral piece of the University’s research mission. As such, the establishment of a Survey review and approval process within a designated University office assists with coordination of campus Survey efforts, minimizes multiple demands on University Survey respondents to prevent Survey fatigue, improves Survey research quality, encourages use of existing data and ensures that Surveys that meet the federal definition of research involving human subjects are referred to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for consideration and potential approval.

Persons Affected

Students, Faculty, Staff, Third Parties

Definitions

Faculty and Staff is any person employed by the University or University Related Organization in any capacity.

FERPA is the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Personally Identifiable Information refers to any information that can be used to distinguish or trace the identity of an individual either directly (e.g., name, address, social security number, telephone number, email address, etc.) or indirectly (e.g., a combination of gender, race, birth date, major, class level, geographic indicators, and other variables), including other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific individual that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the individual with reasonable certainty.

Professional Staff are all persons occupying positions designated by the Chancellor as being in the unclassified service. This includes academic employees, professional employees, and management/confidential employees. See Policies of the Board of Trustees, Article II, Definitions.

Survey refers to the gathering of information from University Students, Faculty, Staff or alumni through questionnaires, interviews, and similar methods to make inferences about a population. This does not include evaluation of an event by participants or teaching evaluation forms.

Survey Sponsor is any member of the University community seeking to conduct a Survey.

Student is any person who is currently or has previously registered for classes at or through the University at Albany.

SUNY is the State University of New York.
Third Party is any person, organization, group or entity not legally affiliated with the University including, but not limited to the general public, contractors, vendors, guests and visitors to the University, those using University facilities or property under a University revocable permit, and volunteers not officially appointed by the University.
University is the University at Albany, State University of New York.

Policy

  1. Oversight and approval of Surveys
    1. The University Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness will be the centralized repository and clearing house of Surveys conducted by University constituents and administered to University Students, Faculty, Staff and alumni.
    2. All Surveys require pre-approval by the Responsible University Official or their designee, as detailed in the procedures promulgated under this policy.
      1. A Third Party planning a Survey needs to have a member of the Professional Staff as research collaborator who will serve as Survey Sponsor.
    3. All Surveys will be scheduled by the Responsible University Official or their designee before being conducted.  
    4. University policy requires that projects that meet the regulatory definition of human subjects research be reviewed and approved by the Human Research Protections Board (IRB) prior to initiation of the research. If a proposed Survey effort requires IRB review and approval, the Responsible University Official shall inform the Survey Sponsor and contact the Office of Regulatory and Research Compliance.
      1. Such a Survey cannot be administered until it has received IRB review and approval as applicable.
  2. Privacy and confidentiality of Survey related data
    1. The University maintains its rights to privacy, within the precepts of the Freedom of Information Act and FERPA. Requests from Third Parties to directly survey University Students, Faculty and Staff or alumni will be denied.
    2. Survey Sponsors must make certain to use Survey related data only in such a manner to protect the confidentiality of individual Survey responses.
    3. Gathering of Personally Identifiable Data must be limited to the minimum required to achieve the purpose of the Survey.
    4. If any Personally Identifiable Information is collected via a Survey,
      1. the Survey Sponsor must not reveal such data in any use of the data gathered via the Survey.
      2. The Survey Sponsor is responsible for managing, storing and destroying such data in accordance with the University’s Information Security Policy and Information Security Domains, Supporting Protocols, Standards and Procedures, and Data Classification Standards as well as applicable SUNY record retention periods.
    5. For Surveys that require the collection and release of student email addresses and/or race or ethnicity information to the Survey Sponsor, the Responsible University Official will obtain approval from the Office of the President before authorizing such Surveys.
  3. Administering of Surveys
    1. The Office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Effectiveness will be responsible for the administration of national Surveys as well as Surveys mandated by SUNY System Administration, New York State, or a University accreditor.
    2. Third-party instruments and instruments designed by University Students, Faculty and Staff proposed to be used as a Survey for administrative purposes must be reviewed by the Responsible University Official or their designee. 
    3. The Responsible University Official shall review the schedule of recurring national Surveys (semesterly, annually, biennially, triennially, etc.) periodically for updates, changes, and scheduling priorities as well as to review the overall continued need of the obtained data. The Responsible University Official will confer with relevant constituents before making a recommendation that the University discontinue participating in a recurring national Survey.
    4. The Responsible University Official will work with Survey Sponsors to identify, whenever possible, random samples, the adoption of qualitative research methods or use of previously collected data to reduce Survey fatigue.
    5. All approved Survey projects will be published on the campus Survey calendar.
  4. Qualtrics
    1. For information security and administrative support reasons, all Survey Sponsors are encouraged to use the University supported Qualtrics platform whenever possible. 
  5. This policy shall be effective immediately upon approval.

Procedures

  1. Requesting to conduct a Survey
    1. All Survey Sponsors, whether they have an outside collaborator or not, must complete the online UAlbany Survey Request Form.
    2. The Responsible University Official or their designee will process the Survey request after receiving a complete survey request form.
    3. If the Responsible University Official or their designee determines that a proposed Survey requires approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB), a conditional pre-approval for scheduling purposes may be granted for IRB submission.
  2. Requesting approval from the Office of the President
    1. The Responsible University Official will facilitate the request for approval of a Survey that requests institutional race/ethnicity data.
  3. IRB approval
    1. Questions related to the IRB and human subjects research review should be addressed to Office of Regulatory and Research Compliance at 518-437-3850 or [email protected].