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IRB Main > Use of Online Survey Vendors

Use of Online Survey Vendors

The IRB recognizes that researchers may need to use a variety of methods for collecting, storing, utilizing, and transmitting data when conducting research with human participants. Many online survey vendors offer convenient, versatile services for distributing and collecting survey data over the Internet, but not all services offer effective levels of protection of for survey respondents.

IRB Policy 16, (, SOP 16) describes the requirements that a researcher must meet in order to get approval from the IRB to conduct online surveys. These requirements must be used to plan, develop, and implement computer- and Internet-based survey research protocols.

Specifically, the IRB requires that participant recruitment, informed consent, research participation, and response data be managed responsibly, in a way that does not introduce unacceptable risks to participants. A checklist has been provided in the IRB Policy 16 to help assess whether or not the computer survey solution being considered by the researcher will meet the IRB requirements.

Note: The IRB will require additional language in the consent form, advising participants of the potential risks of participating in an online survey. The suggested language is specified in SOP 16.

Which vendor can I use to create online surveys?
The IRB has reached out to several service providers who specialize in survey creation and hosting services and are currently used by Cornell researchers. Each service provider was sent the list of questions published in the IRB policy 16 and asked to respond. Based on the information provided in writing and specific responses to the questions in the checklist, the following service providers meet the requirements outlined by the IRB at this time. These vendors may be considered when conducting any online survey.  

  • The Survey Research Institute (SRI) at Cornell University offers a full suite of survey project services.
  • - Cornell University has contracted with Qualtrics to provide Web survey services to Cornell faculty, staff and students. Users can create and manage their online surveys free of charge. Users need to login with their netid and password to access the survey and must agree to the University terms and conditions prior to using the survey services.
  • PsychData

When conducting surveys involving no greater than minimal risk (see definition of minimal risk), the following vendors may also be considered:

  • SurveyMonkey
    Note – To use SurveyMonkey for Cornell-affiliated research you must have SSL encryption. This requires purchasing a higher priced subscription with SurveyMonkey.

Please note that the IRB is providing this list of service providers to researchers as a courtesy and a service and does not, in any way, promote or endorse the use of these service providers. It is the PI’s responsibility to ensure that their research using online surveys, meets the IRB requirements outlined in IRB policy 16.

The IRB also does not endorse or promote the use of a particular vendor or software for conducting surveys. Researchers who would like to conduct online surveys using vendors other than those listed here, are welcome to do so. In its review, the IRB will look for evidence that the vendor meets the minimum requirements set forth in the SOP 16. It is advisable to provide information related to the survey vendor in the initial application to the IRB so as to avoid a delay in review and approval.

The IRB welcomes suggested companies to consider adding to this approved list. ORIA will periodically evaluate the written statements, policies and terms of use of the vendors included in the list and update it accordingly.

IRB Main > Use of Online Survey Vendors