Santa Clara University

Web Publishing @ SCU

Survey Manager - User Guide

  1. Creating your first survey

    To begin, log in to Commonspot and navigate to the Survey Management application, at If this is your first visit, you will need to confirm that you have read and agree to the terms of use. Once you have done that, click on the "Start New Survey" link. This will begin the first step, which is to configure the survey's settings. The following fields are in the form:

    • Survey Title (required) - This should be a short string of text that will identify the survey to you and the end user. It will appear in the title section of the page when a user visits your survey.
    • Header Image URL - If you are not planning on embedding this survery in your own department's web site, you can still customize the look by including your site's header image at the top of the survey. To find out the URL of your header image, browse to a page that has the image on it and right click on the image. Select 'Properties' from the list of options. You will see an 'Address' or 'URL' field. Copy that URL to this field in the survey form.
    • Start and End Dates (required) - These fields specify the dates that the survey will be open to the public. You may enter a date 'mm-dd-yyyy', or even more specific date and time 'mm-dd-yyyy hh:mm'. You can always change these dates later, even once the survey has been activated, in case you need to extend or shorten the survey's availability.
    • Notification Recipient Emails - If you would like to receieve an email notification each time someone fills out the survey, enter your email (or a comma separated list of emails) here. Results are always stored in the database and you can access them though this Management interface, regardless of whether they're emailed to you or not.
    • Welcome Text - This block of text will appear at the top of the first page of the survey. Use it to give any background or instructions necessary.
    • Submit Action (required) - This section allows you to specify what happens after the survey is completed by a user. There are two ways that this can be handled. First, a user can simply be shown a block of text that you specify here. Check the "Display Textblock on Submission" option and enter the text here to do this. The second option is to "Submit to a Page". This allows you more control as you can redirect the user to any page in your site when they are finished. If you do redirect them to another page, make sure to include some text on that page that indicates that their survey has been completed and received.
    • Require SCU Network ID Authentication (required) - Select 'Yes' if you would like to require that users authenticate using their SCU Network ID username and password before filling out your survey. This ensures that only users that are currently affiliated with the university can view your survey.
    • Record SCU Network ID? (required) - This option can only be selected if "Require SCU Network ID" is 'yes'. If you choose to record the SCU Network ID, the user's SCU Network ID username will be stored in the database along with their survey response. This allows you to see who submitted which response, though it prevents anonymity.
    • Enforce Unique SCU Network ID? (required) - This option can only be selected if "Require SCU Network ID" and "Record SCU Network ID" are 'yes'. Selecting to "enforce unique SCU Network ID" will make sure that each SCU Network ID user fills out the survey no more than once. "Record SCU Network ID" must be selected so that the system is storing which SCU Network ID users have taken the survey.
    • Restrict access to Novell Groups - This option can only be selected if "Require SCU Network ID" is 'yes'. This is an optional feature that allows you to restrict access to your survey to a limited subset of SCU users. You can create groups at, and you can add individual users, departments, or affiliations. After you create a group and add the desired users, select the name of that group from the select menu on the Survey Settings page, and only the users in that group will be permitted to take the survey.
    • Allow Progress Save? (required) - This option can only be selected if "Require SCU Network ID" and "Record SCU Network ID" are 'yes'. Checking this option will allow users to save their progress while filling out the survey. If you have a particularly long survey, you may want to select this option. When a user logs in again with their SCU Network ID username/password, they will be able to resume taking the survey where they left off.
    • Survey Format (required) - There are three different formats that surveys may take. First, "All questions in one page" is the traditional layout and will display all the questions you enter at once. Second, "Grouped into sections" allows you to split the survey up into groups and one group will be displayed per page, along with "back" and "forward" options. This can make the survey seem more manageable to users, in addition to allowing to conditionally display sections.
    • Who else can edit this Survey and View the results? - This section allows you to share access to this survey with other Commonspot users. Select a name on the left and click the '»' arrow to move it to the right. You can share a survey with as many users as necessary. If you do not see someone on the list, they are not a Commonspot user. To request access to Commonspot, please contact
    • Security Level (required) - You can select from three security levels: Normal, Medium, and High. Select a security level based on how sensitive the data that you are collecting is. Note that selecting a higher security level may come at a cost, which is decreased performance for the user.
    • Password to Access Survey - If you would like to limit access to your survey to a specific group of people, you can configure a password for the survey and email it to users. An example of this is if you are a professor and want to email a survey to a class. Set up a password and include it in an email message to the class.
  2. Adding/Configuring Questions

    Once you've configured the settings for your survey, you are ready to begin entering the questions. From the main menu, click the "questions" option. If there are no questions in your survey yet, you'll see a "Begin »" button that will point you towards creating the first question or group (depending on how your survey is configured). Once you've created questions, they will appear in a list, and on the right there are options to move them up and down ( and ) as well as to delete a question (). At any time you can click the 'preview' image at the top of the list to see exactly what the survey will look like to the users, without saving any data.

    1. Groups

      If you are using the "Grouped by Section" survey layout, you will need to use 'groups'. When you first begin entering questions, you'll see a button that will allow you to create your first group. A group has a title and an optional rich text block associated with it that allows you to include instructions on each page. Once you have created multiple groups, you will be able to move them higher or lower in the order of display.

    2. Instructions

      On the questions configuration page, there is a link to "add instructions". This feature allows you to enter a rich text block of text anywhere in the survey (and even move it up and down along with questions), in the event that you need any extra space for instructions to the user or formatting.

    3. Question Types
      1. Radio List

        A radio list is a group of options from which the user can select only one response. The example to the right allows users to select their favorite color from the list, or enter an alternative. To accomplish this, select "radio list" from the 'type' drop down and you will see more options appear below it. The "options box is where you will type all the possible choices, and you will separate each choice by a return/line feed. In order to make a free text area such as the 'other' options, enter an open and closed bracket [] where you would like it to appear. The example to the right was created with the following "Options":

        Other: []

        You may include as many free text fields as you like in a question. You'll also see below the "options" form field a field for "Options Orientation", which has choices for horizontal or vertical. This indicates how the radio buttons are oriented. In the example to the right, 'vertical' is selected.

        Additionally, you might sometimes want a different value to be stored in the database than what the user sees. For example, although I might want the user to see a choice between red, green, and blue for their favorite color, I would prefer that the values 1, 2, and 3, respectively, be stored in the database instead. To accomplish this, use an equals '=' sign after the option. Our previous example would instead look like this:

        Other: []

      2. Checkbox List

        A checkbox list is a group of options that allows a user to select as many or as few as desired. The example on the right shows a group of checkboxes that would allow the user to select up to four 'courses'. The configuration for this type of question is identical to the Radio List configuration detailed above. There are two additional configuration options however, which are "Maximum Selections" and "Minimum Selections". These allow you to more specifically regulate how many questions a person is able to check from the list.

      3. Select menu

        A select menu is also similar to a radio list in the way that it's options are configured. When you choose "Select Menu" as the question type, you'll see a field for "Options" appear below it. Specify what options should be available in your select menu by entering each one separated by a return/line feed. You can also store a different value in the database than what a users sees by using the equals '=' sign method described above.

      4. Select Multiple Menu

        A "Select Multiple" menu is identical to a "Select" menu except that, as shown at right, users can select more than one options. As a result, you'll see two additional configuration options below, "Maximum Selections" and "Minimum Selections". These allow you to more specifically regulate how many questions a person is able to select from the menu.

      5. Scale Group

        A scale group is a format that is well-suited to indicate a degree of sentiment on a particular statement. As you can see in the example to the right, users see a grid of choices. To configure this question type, choose "Scale Group" from the menu, and you will see new fields appear for "Scale" and "Questions". In the same way that radio/checkbox and select menus work, you must separate each option in each of these fields by a return/line feed. To accomplsh what we did in the sample above, our Scale would be:

        Agree 1=1
        Disagree 5=5

        Note how the equals signs are used here (similar to radio/checkbox and select menus) to store a different value in the database than is shown to the user. We want to illustrate that 1 is agree and 5 is disagree, but we only want the numbers 1 and 5 to be stored when a user chooses that value. Finally, our Questions would be

        I love SCU
        I'm glad I attended SCU
        I would make the same choice again

      6. Text - short

        This question type is a simple text input. It's length must be fewer than 256 characters. You can specify your own maximum width however, as well as how to validate the user's input. For example, if you are asking for a student ID number, you would set the maximum length to 11 and the "validate as..." field to 'number'. You can also specify the width in pixels that the box should appear. Use the 'preview' link at the bottom of the form to see dimensions.

        • Email Confirmation - If you choose "text - short" as the question type and choose "email" as the validation mask, you will see an option called "Send Email Confirmation". Checking this option will make the survey send a confirmation email upon completion, complete with a summary of submitted fields, to the user. The email address that they provide for this field is the address that the summary will be sent to. The email confirmation field is limited to one per survey. You might want to include some text in the description explaining this to the user, such as "Provide your email here to receive a confirmation email for your submission."
      7. Text - long

        A "Long text" creates a text area that allows the user to write paragraphs of text. It is suited for open ended questions, such as "Describe your experience...". You can specify it's width and height in pixels if desired.

      8. Text - HTML

        This question type allows the user to enter rich text or HTML content. They can use bold, italics, underline, make bulleted lists, and other formatting. It is ideal for an instance in which someone might need to paste a block of formatted text and would like to preserve the formatting, such as a resumé.

      9. Rank Items

        As you can see in the example to the right, a ranking list allows users to place a list of items in numerical orders, typically used to rank their choices. The "options" box for a ranking uses the same syntax as the radio/checkbox lists and select menus, as you simply enter each options separated by a return/line feed. You can also use the equals notation described above.

      10. Phone

        This question type requests a phone number from the user, and enforces that a numerical area code, 3-digit prefix, and 4-digit suffix are all provided. There is no other configuration for this question type.

      11. Address

        This question type requests an address from the user, and there are three different configuration options for the address question type: Short, Long, and International. A 'short' address asks for Address, City, State, and Zip. A 'long' address asks for the same, with the addition of an extra line for address. Finally, 'International' asks for the same as 'long' with the addition of a field for "country".

      12. Date

        This question type asks for a date from the user, and ensures that it is valid. There are three ways you can configure this question type: month/day/year (example: "Enter your Birthday"), month/year (example: "Expected Graduation Month"), and year (example: "Year You Began School")

    4. Conditions

      If your survey is using the "Grouped into Sections" or "One question at a time" formats, you have the option of conditionally displaying a group or question, respectively. This is well-suited for questions that might be written as "If you did not answer yes to question 19, answer this question...". Instead of leaving it up to the user to decide whether or not they should answer a particular question or group of questions, you can tell the survey how to show or hide them based on previous input. To do this, click the 'conditions' () image in the question listing next to the question/group that you want to conditionally display. You will then see a form that allows you to choose to "show" or "hide" the question based on a certain criteria. There are two different ways to enter the criteria, 'simple' and 'advanced'. The Simple version shows up by default, but you can toggle between the two using the links at the right. The simple version allows you to choose a single question (from a list of questions that are before the one you are applying conditions to). Then you choose an operator and enter the text. From our first example, "If you did not answer yes to question 19, answer this question...", we would choose "Show this question" from the radio list, choose question 19 (whatever that happens to be) from the drop down, choose "is not" as the operator, and enter the text 'yes' in the text input. The condition should read like a plain english sentence if you put it together:

      [Show this question if] 'question 19' is not 'yes'

      Using the 'advanced' configuration is only slightly different. If you click on the "advanced »" link to the right you'll see the same input, except with a few more options, which allows you enter a more complex condition. You can use "and/or" to join conditions, and parentheses to group them properly. For example, I want to show a group of questions to underclassmen who like sports, and in the previous group I'd asked for "Year" and "Do you like Sports?". Again, the condition will read like a plain english sentence:

      [Show this question if]             CORRECT
      'Do you like sports?' is 'Yes' AND
      ( 'Year' is 'Freshman' OR
        'Year' is 'Sophomore' )

      In similar fashion to algebra, it is important to note how the parentheses are used here to preserve the proper order of precedence. If the condition was written in that order without the parentheses, it would be read by the computer in the order that the statements appear. So it would be equivalent to saying:

      [Show this question if]             ***INCORRECT!***
      ( 'Do you like sports?' is 'Yes' AND
      'Year' is 'Freshman' ) OR
      'Year' is 'Sophomore'

      As you can see, this condition would be met only by "Freshmen who like sports" OR "Sophomores (regardless of whether they like sports)", which is not our intention. An alternative way to enter this condition would also be to use the "in list" operator to say:

      [Show this question if]             CORRECT
      'Do you like sports?' is 'Yes' AND
      'Year' in list 'Freshman,Sophomore' )
  3. Administering the survey

    In previous versions of the survey application, you were required to activate a survey before it could be accessed by your respondents. This is no longer a requirement. As soon as you create a survey, it can be filled out if someone knows the URL.

    You have two options for how to distribute the survey. The first and simplest, is to simply email the url or post a link to the URL:[id number]

    Simply replace [id number] with the ID for your survey. The survey id is listed to the right of its title in the main menu. The second way is to drop the Survey Element (found in Commonspot's Content Well element gallery category) into the desired page on your site, and provide a single custom parameter, survey=[id number].

  4. Accessing results

    Once your survey has been completed by users, you can view the results using the Results interface. From the main menu, click "Results". If there have been responses submitted, you will have the following options:

    Filters - If you have a large number of submissions, it might be useful to 'filter' the results. In the Individual Results, Datasheet, Report View, and Export View you will see a "Filter Results »" link that allows you to configure a filter to narrow down the results being analyzed. Note that the filter you set on one page persists throughout your navigation of the results, unless you click the "remove filter" link that will appear at the top of each page while a filter is applied. Configuring a filter is similar to configuring a complex Condition, described above. If for example, you want to see only results submitted by freshmen, make a filter 'Year' is 'Freshman'. See the Conditions reference for more description of constructing complex condition statements.

    1. View Individual Question Results

      View detailed results and analysis for an individual question at a time. When you click this link, you will see a dropdown list of all questions in the survey. Choose a question to view. If it is a text-based question, you will see a list of results. If it is a list-based question (checkbox/radio/select etc) then you will see a chart with percentages of responses.

    2. Datasheet View

      This feature allows you to view a spreadsheet of all responses. It also allows you to view the entire contents of one survey submission as well as deleting individual submissions. If you would like to change the table headings (which by default are simple numerical '1,2,3,...'), click the settings link below the datasheet, which will take you to Export Settings (below).

    3. View Printable Report

      This feature aggregates all the results into one "report", which you can view in a printable web page format or PDF.

    4. Export Raw Results to CSV/Excel Format

      Click this link to download the results in a "Comma Separated Value" format, which on most computers will open by default as an Excel spreadsheet. If you would like to change the row headings, click the "Edit Labels" link below the datasheet, which will take you to Export Settings (below).

    5. Export Settings

      The export settings page allows you to configure the column headings for the datasheet view and the downloaded results in Excel. By default, the survey application orders the questions numerically, assigning a 1, 2, 3, etc. to each question. You can set your own labels however by clicking the "export settings" link from the "Results" menu or from below the datasheet and export pages. Simply fill out the form with the desired labels and click 'update'. For multipart questions, such as Scale Group or Item Ranking, questions will be labelled with alphabetical reference. For example, in the Scale Group sample, if you were to label that question "SCU Impressions" for the database, the three questions would be labeled "SCU Impressions (a)", "SCU Impressions (b)", and "SCU Impressions (c)", respectively. Similarly, free text fields are labeled 'txt1', 'txt2', etc. In the Radio List example above, if we labeled that question "Color Pref", the data export would contain two fields for that question: "Color Pref", which would indicate which radio button was selected, and "Color Pref (txt1)", which would contain any text that the user entered in the 'other' box.

    6. Empty the Database

      Clicking on this link will take you first to a confirmation page (to prevent accidental deletion) and then allow you to empty the results from the database. Deleting the records cannot be undone.

  5. FAQ

    • When I export the results, the "Date Submitted" field appears to consist of pound signs, i.e. '#####'. What's wrong?

      When Excel tries to format a certain type of data but it is too large for the cell, it displays it as pound signs. To view the data, simply make the spreadsheet column wider by dragging the right side boundary out until you see the data.

    • When I choose a question type from the drop down, nothing happens. What's wrong?

      You must have Javascript enabled in your Web browser in order to use the survey creation application. Click here for instructions on how to enable/disable Javascript.

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