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How do I pilot a survey?

Before you launch a survey to capture data, it's important to make sure that it works properly. This means checking that (for example):

  • The text in the survey is easy to understand and free from mistakes
  • The mandatory/optional/follow-on settings of questions are correct
  • Your survey is accessible to those with disabilities
  • Survey Access Control set-up works and has been clearly explained to respondents
  • Data is captured in the form that you expect, and reporting is useful
  • Any technology that respondents might be using (assistive technologies, mobile internet, unfamiliar browsers or IT systems, etc.) have been checked and work correctly

The best way to check these is to thoroughly pilot your survey and to ask others to do the same.

You can pilot your survey in one of two ways.


Using BOS's 'Preview' mode

The quickest (but least in-depth) way to pilot your survey is to use BOS's inbuilt 'Preview' mode.

To do this, simply select the 'Preview' link next to each survey on your 'My Surveys' page and then step through the survey one page at a time. If they have access to the survey, then other users of your BOS account can also preview your survey. You can also make the survey available to users of other BOS accounts.

Moving through your survey using 'Continue' allows you to perform basic proofreading. using 'Check answers and Continue' also allows you to check the mandatory or optional settings for each question.

Previewing a survey does not allow you to store data or check reporting. To do this, you'll need to launch a pilot survey (see below).


Launching a pilot survey

The most complete way to pilot a survey is to launch a full version of it.

A launched pilot is available on the web and so can be completed by anyone who has the survey URL. This allows reviewers to see if even if they don't have access to your BOS account.

Launching a full version of your survey allows you to test all of its features as a 'dry run' of the final survey,  including Survey Access Control set-up, data capture and reporting.

Once your reviewers have finished submitting comments, then you simply close the pilot survey and create a copy - which you can edit and launch as the final survey.

To create a pilot survey, simply

  1. Locate your draft survey in your 'My Surveys' list
  2. Select the survey's 'options'
  3. Retitle the survey "PILOT:..." and give it a shortname that includes "pilot_" (or similar)
  4. Launch the survey by selecting the launch link for the survey, and ticking the check boxes.
  5. Finally - send the Web address to reviewers

When reviewing is complete

  1. Close the pilot survey by changing the close date in survey options to (for example) yesterday.
  2. Create a new survey using the pilot as the template (by selecting it form the drop-down list of templates - which is automatically populated with a list of surveys you've already created).
  3. Give your new survey its final title and short name.
  4. Edit questions as suggested by your pilot (if appropriate).
  5. Reload any Survey Access Control information and set up the survey options as required.
  6. Launch the final survey.

If you need to edit the survey again - simply work through the last 5 steps (above) again - this time, remembering to also change the title and shortname of the survey that you've closed if you want to re-use them for the new, final survey.

There is no restriction on the number of times you can do this allowing the survey to be reviewed many times before launch.