Snapshot of Survey Activity at Macalester

Macalester Survey Policy Overview

  • Since Fall 2015, Macalester’s Survey Policies require most surveys sent to students, faculty, staff, and/or alumni to undergo an application and review process, analogous to an IRB review process. The purpose of the review process is to ensure that survey activity on campus is well coordinated and conforms to ethical and methodological best practices.
  • The review is conducted by a joint faculty and staff committee, the Survey Coordinating Committee (SCC), and typically takes two weeks once all application materials have been submitted. SCC reviewers evaluate the timing, sampling, ethics, and design of proposed survey projects and then give final approval for survey activity.
  • Macalester’s Survey Policies also set limits on allowing off-campus researchers to survey the Macalester community.
  • Details for how to work through the SCC review process (and whether your survey might be exempt from SCC review) can be found on the Conducting Surveys at Macalester page.

Why have the Macalester Survey Policies been created?

  • In fall 2014, focus groups revealed that Macalester students received 30+ survey requests per year. These requests came from multiple, uncoordinated sources, and there was no mechanism in place to stop off-campus researchers from using our student population as a convenience sample. Further, some researchers on campus noticed that surveyors did not always follow best practices with respect to survey development or research ethics.
  • This situation lead to survey fatigue on campus, especially among students, and was accompanied by a reduction in survey response rates across projects.

To whom do the Macalester Survey Policies apply?

  • The Macalester survey policies apply to students, faculty, campus committees, staff members, and off-campus researchers hoping to collect survey data from the Macalester community.

What are the goals of Macalester’s Survey Policies?

  • To be thoughtful stewards of two shared and limited campus resources: Our community members’ time and attention
  • To reduce survey fatigue and unnecessary survey proliferation
  • To evaluate and prioritize requests for access to students, employees, or alumni for research purposes
  • To encourage collaboration among researchers and the use of existing data
  • To ensure survey research at Macalester is done ethically and conforms to methodological best practices

Limits on Surveys Conducted by Off-Campus Researchers

Surveys conducted by off-campus researchers must be done in collaboration with a Macalester staff or faculty member, who must serve as a primary researcher on the project. Under most circumstances, off-campus researchers who are not partnered with a Macalester staff or faculty member as a PI will not be allowed to survey Macalester community members. In rare cases, off-campus researchers will be allowed to survey Macalester community members without a Macalester collaborator IF they agree to share results in full with a relevant Macalester office or department AND IF said results have the potential to directly benefit that office in its ability to serve its mission to the College. An application for off-campus researchers can be found here.