Every year the Student Survey Coordinators, with help from the Graduate Program Advising team, design and conduct a survey of PhD students touching on advising, department culture, and other aspects of PhD life. The results from past surveys can be found on the Ph.D. Program Data, Surveys, & Reports page.

Most of the work for this role takes place late in the year (approximately between February and May). For this role, responsibilities include:
  • Creating or updating the Google Form for the survey
  • Sending the survey to students
  • Encouraging students to respond
  • Compiling the results
  • Archiving the survey materials

Guidelines for the Grad Student Survey

This section outlines a set of guidelines and recommendations for conducting the annual graduate student survey. These guidelines were developed by the G5PAC and past survey organizers. For additional guidance or questions about organizing the survey, please reach out to Elise.

Note: The goal of these guidelines is to provide a set of considerations that can help future coordinators collect and analyze the survey results. These guidelines are not meant to be a strict set of requirements, but aim to help improve the process of running the survey in the future. Our hope is that this will be an evolving document that can guide and reflect the experience of past/current/future grad student survey coordinators.

Target Timeline

Survey Release Date: February 1st or closest weekday
Survey Close Date: March 31st or closest weekday
Results Release Date: May 31st or closest weekday

Phase 1: Survey

  1. Collect complete results: The survey should collect a complete set of results and not preemptively bin numerical responses into categories.
  2. Provide options for granular feedback: The survey should avoid using yes/no questions and provide additional options or free responses for more nuanced feedback.
  3. Maintain question consistency: Questions should reflect the answer direction and answer scale for previous years. Major changes in the direction or scale should be well justified and documented in the question wording history.
  4. Archive survey questions: The survey questions and/or form should be properly archived at the Ph.D. Program Data, Surveys, & Reports page. Suggestion: Create a copy of the Google Form to remove responses and link to the blank template. Questions should also be recorded in the question wording history to facilitate longitudinal analysis.

Phase 2: Recruitment

  1. Transparency regarding use: Recruitment emails should be clear that free responses will be shared with all grad students & faculty in the reporting phase and that other responses will only be reported in aggregate. The email should also remind students that any private or sensitive comments may be emailed directly to Elise.
    1. Support optional reporting: Consider including checkboxes asking whether respondents would be okay with responses being included (1) verbatim, (2) only in summary, (3) or not at all, in the survey reporting. Alternatively, provide an option for students to opt-out of sharing written comments.
  2. Communicate the participation timeline: Inform students of how long the survey will be available and when responses will close. Also, provide a timeframe for when results will be made available once the survey is complete.
  3. Archive recruitment protocol: Maintain a record of recruitment emails sent and answers to questions regarding the use/reporting of the results; recruitment materials should be presented on the Ph.D. Program Data, Surveys, & Reports page.

Phase 3: Analysis

  1. Take care with temporal analyses: Due to frequent changes to the question wording and answer scales or direction, be cautious when analyzing data over time. The question wording history provides a summary of similarly worded questions across past surveys.

Phase 4: Reporting

  1. Report aggregated data: To avoid opportunities for deanonymization, data should be binned such that the smallest bin has three or more data points.
  2. Report percentages not totals: To avoid opportunities for deanonymization, data should be reported as a percentage rather than a total.
  3. Remove deanonymizing information from quotes: Edit all textual quotes to remove deanonymizing information such as names, research areas, etc.
  4. Report response rate: Indicate the total number of responses received for the survey (relative to the department as a whole). Remember to take the response rate into account during the Analysis phase.
  5. Archive summary results: The final set of results should be shared with students by the end of the year and archived along with past survey results at the Ph.D. Program Data, Surveys, & Reports page.