1. About Qualtrics
Qualtrics is a worldwide leading survey tool, in terms of functionalities, security and privacy measures and the only centrally supported survey tool at UM. Other tools might be less safe, and use of these tools is not compliant to the privacy laws (GDPR), as UM does not have a data processing agreement with the companies running those services.
Users can create over 100 different question types, use interactive questions to increase response rates or use embedded video, audio clips or graphics in seconds. View all features at Qualtrics.com.
Make sure to request your personal UM Qualtrics account and do not create a trial account at the Qualtrics website.
When using Qualtrics, you will probably collect personal data. Check the information on personal data and GDPR before you use Qualtrics.
2. Who can use Qualtrics?
Qualtrics is available to all Maastricht University staff and students for UM teaching, research and business purposes.
To request a Qualtrics-account, contact your faculty or local administrator (see 6. Get started).
3. Responsible research: GDPR, personal data and sample size
When using Qualtrics, you will probably collect personal data. Personal data means any information relating to an identified or identifiable individual (‘data subject’). An identifiable individual is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that individual.
Qualtrics offers the possibility to work GDPR-compliant.
Researchers, students and staff who collect personal data are obliged to protect the privacy of the survey respondents by thinking carefully about the survey design. Compliance to the GDPR is mandatory.
Maastricht University has concluded a data processing agreement with Qualtrics about processing low-, middle- and high-risk class personal data .
It is possible to process sensitive (high-risk) personal data. Contact your supervisor (students) or information manager (staff) to perform a risk analysis and possibly a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) before the start of your project. Also check out the measures you can take to process the data with minimal risk.
Sensitive personal data are data revealing:
- Racial or ethnic origin
- Political opinions
- Religious or philosophical beliefs
- Membership of trade unions
- Genetic data
- Biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person
- Physical or mental health condition
- Sexual life or orientation
- Convictions, proceedings and criminal acts
- National Identification Number (BSN in the Netherlands)
3.1 Pseudonymisation and anonymisation
To protect the privacy of survey respondents, it is mandatory to pseudonymise or anonymise (sensitive) personal data.
In the GDPR, pseudonymisation is defined as “the processing of personal data in such a way that the data can no longer be attributed to a specific data subject without the use of additional information.” When pseudonymising a dataset, it is important to store the dataset and the additional information separately. Identifying information is stored outside Qualtrics, reducing the privacy risk for data subjects. This procedure is especially recommended for research with sensitive personal data. Contact your local division administrator to assist you with pseudonimysing your data processing in Qualtrics.
Pseudonymisation is not the same as anonymisation. In contrast with anonymised data, pseudonymised data can still be linked with the identifiable data. So re-identification remains possible. Pseudonymised data are categorised as personal data and compliance with the GDPR is required.
Pseudonymisation is needed when respondent and response should still be coupled, e.g. for further research.
Anonymised data can no longer be identified. Any information that may result in the identification of a data subject must be irreversibly removed from the dataset. Irreversibly anonymised data is not categorised as personal data and compliance with the GDPR is no longer required.
Find information about anonymising responses and about the anonymous link in Qualtrics.
Be careful: if your survey contains personal questions that can lead to identifiable responses, the dataset is NOT anonymised (even if you made use of the anonymous link and anonymised the response).
Note that true anonymization is often difficult to achieve. Using advanced techniques, additional datasets you don’t know exist or very large computing power (in the future), it may be possible to link the data you collected to people.
Be aware that anonymisation of responses cannot be undone.
3.2 Sample size calculation
When starting a survey it is important to carefully consider the number of participants you will include.
You should not include more participants than is required to get a representative of the target population.
Qualtrics offers an online sample size calculator which helps you determine your ideal survey sample size.
3.3 Further information
Use of Qualtrics Research Suite should be in accordance with the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) of Maastricht University.
Find more information and legal obligations on processing (sensitive) personal data on the Research Data Management portal.
4.1 Research with sensitive personal data, in a single measurement
When you collect sensitive personal data, you can take the following measures to process the data with minimal risk:
- Approach your respondents via an anonymous link
- Questions and documents in your survey do not include any (combination of) data which could identify your participants. E.g., if you ask for sexual preference, you cannot ask for the participant’s email address as well.
Download and delete all data of the study immediately from Qualtrics when you have finished the survey.
4.2. Research with sensitive personal data, using multiple measurements
When you gather sensitive personal data in your surveys and also require participant contact details to send notifications for subsequent measurements, you’ll need to use pseudonymisation to process the data with minimal risk. This means that in Qualtrics only a unique identifier for a participant is stored, but the key to the actual contact details is stored separately.
Please contact your local division administrator. They can assist you with pseudonymising your data processing to protect the privacy of your participants in Qualtrics. Also, questions and documents in your survey should not include any (combination of) data which could identify your participants. E.g., if you ask for sexual preference, you cannot ask for the participant’s email address as well.
Download your data and delete the data from Qualtrics when you have finished the survey.
4.3 File upload
In Qualtrics, you have also the option to upload files. The file upload question type allows respondents to upload a file along with their survey response. Using this functionality, you can collect data that may not be available otherwise. Be aware that you are not allowed to upload sensitive personal data if (a combination of) this data could identify your participants.
For more information, contact your local division administrator.
Please note that when uploading a file, the file may contain personal data that you may not be aware of. Image files, for example, may contain personal data even if the image itself does not show a person. Creation date, location where the image was taken, etc. are often stored as metadata for individual images and can lead to identification of the creators of the images. So always consider carefully whether your dataset is truly anonymous.
5. Export and deletion of survey data
Do not use Qualtrics to store your research data. Export and remove data from Qualtrics to secure storage, the moment research is completed.
For information about available storage infrastructures, see the Data Storage overview.
Specifically, what you need to do:
- Log in at Qualtrics
- Export your completed surveys
Go to Survey → Tools → Export → Export Survey. This will download a QSF file with the empty survey, so you can re-use it later in the new research. This file does not contain any research data from respondents.
- Export research data from respondents
Go to Data & Analysis → Export & Import → Export data, and choose the format you would like to store the data in (e.g. SPSS format)
More info about data export at Qualtrics.com
- Verify (in e.g. SPSS) that your data has indeed been successfully stored
- Save the QSF file from (2) and your data file from (3) in UM servers for research data
- Remove the survey from Qualtrics
In the main menu at the right-hand side after the project name at Actions → Delete Project
More information about deleting your data at Qualtrics.com
- Repeat step 2 through 6 for all finished surveys.
If you have any questions or issues, please contact your local administrator.
6. Get started
To request a Qualtrics-account, contact your local administrator of your UM department. They will give you all the information you need.
Please don’t make an account on Qualtrics.com!
If you have your UM Qualtrics account, always log in via this UM Qualtrics address: maastrichtuniversity.qualtrics.com
When using Qualtrics, you will probably collect personal data. It is important to check the information on personal data and GDPR before you use Qualtrics and start collecting personal data.
7. Account transfer
To transfer your UM Qualtrics account to another faculty or service center, contact the University Library via the contact form and indicate to which division you want us to transfer your account.
Please remove all survey data that should not be transferred to the new division from Qualtrics [see: 5: Export and deletion of survey data] to a secure storage location before requesting the transfer of your account.
8. Learn more
- Quick start (video)
- Qualtrics offers a comprehensive suite of documentation, guides, manuals and tutorials
- Comprehensive manuals
- Basecamp training area with videos for all aspects of the platform.
9. Help and support
When you have a specific question, first check the Qualtrics support site. The terminology on the Qualtrics website sometimes refers to market research. However, this does not mean that the tool is not suitable for online surveys and other types of research.
If you did not find the answer there, then contact Qualtrics Support Center.
Still, have a question, or want to register a new account contact your local UM administrator:
- Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
- Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences
- Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience
- School of Business and Economics
- Faculty of Science and Engineering (including UCV and UCM)
- Faculty of Law
- Student Services Centre
- Facility Services
- University Library
- Maastricht University Office