Ethical considerations in using on-line surveys

Online Survey

The Research Ethics Board endorses no particular online survey tool. If, however, you wish to look into Canadian-hosted sites, the following links may be helpful:

If you are considering using an online survey tool, it is important for you to know that if the tool is hosted by an American company (e.g. Survey Monkey), then you need to take certain precautions to ensure the confidentiality and/or anonymity of your survey participants.

It is important for you to know that online survey tools that are hosted by American companies are subject to U.S. laws; in particular, the US Patriot Act, which allows authorities access to the records of internet service providers. UNLESS YOU INDICATE OTHERWISE when constructing your survey, a U.S.-based company’s servers will record incoming IP addresses – including that of the computer that participants use to access the survey. You are advised to set up your survey to collect anonymous responses. The procedure for this depends on the type of collector/s you use:

1. If you use a Web Link collector (or any other collector), you must configure it to not collect IP addresses.

2. If you use the Email Invitation collector, you must configure it to not save the email addresses (in the Analyze section) and not to collect IP addresses.

If you are using a U.S.-based survey tool, the following statement should be included in the Informed Consent statement of your survey:

It is important for you to know that “[name of survey tool]” is a web-survey company that is located in the U.S.; this company is subject to U.S. laws and in particular, the Patriot Act, which allows the U.S. government to access the records of internet service providers. No personal identifiers will be collected in this survey but it is possible that the views and opinions you expressed may be accessed and linked to you without your knowledge or consent. In an effort to maintain anonymity, during the design of this survey, the option to collect your computer IP address has been disabled. The security and privacy policy for the [name of survey tool] can be found at the following link: [ insert appropriate link ]


For Ethical issues involved in using Survey Monkey please click here.