Anonymous survey is one of the data collection techniques that have been proven to increase response rates. This is partly because people are freer and feel more confident to express their opinions when they are unknown to the other party.

It is not rocket science to be honest because we can easily draw an instance from a well known human behavior. As humans, we generally are ourselves the most when alone—doing things we wouldn't do if we were with someone else. 

This human trait extends to responses to anonymous surveys, a good data collection practice. Hence, the rest of this article will be guiding you on how to create an anonymous survey for data collection.

What is an Anonymous Survey? 

An anonymous survey is a kind of survey that excludes the collection of respondents’ personal information. In an anonymous survey, any information that can help in identifying a respondent is not collected (i.e. personal information).

This kind of survey is always used when carrying out objective research so that the responses collected cannot be linked to anyone at the end of the survey. It is, however, important to note that “anonymous” does not mean the same thing as “confidential”.

When a survey is said to be anonymous, it does not collect the personal details of the respondent at all. Confidential surveys, on the other hand, collect respondents’ personal details but these details are not shared with a third party.

what-makes-anonymous-survey

What Makes a Survey Anonymous? 

In order to avoid ending up with a badly crafted anonymous survey, you need to understand what should and shouldn’t be added in your survey. Hence, we have highlighted below, a few things you need to take note of when creating an anonymous survey for your research.

  • Protect Respondents’ Identity

By all means, avoid collecting respondents’ personal information or any other information that can be traced back to the respondent. You should stay away from details like names, location, Contact Number, Email, Address, identity card, etc. 

It doesn’t matter if you leave a message promising anonymity while reviewing the responses, collecting the above details in your survey makes it no more anonymous. Rather, in this case, it can be classified as a confidential survey.

Researchers should also avoid using features that can automatically track a respondent’s location or steal their personal information. This is highly unethical except permission is given by the respondent and may lead to a lawsuit against the researcher.

Demographic questions can be asked, especially when carrying out research based on the respondents’ demography. However, this should be done in a manner that does not expose personal details about the respondent. 

For instance, when trying to find out the age demography a person falls in, you should avoid questions like, “How old are you?”, “What is your date of birth?”. Rather, you should ask, “What is your age group?”. 

This will help you obtain relevant demographic information about respondents without coming off as too intrusive. In fact, some respondents will not realize that they are giving up relevant information about themselves.

anonymous-survey-question

  • Limited survey response accessibility

Grant limited access to the responses gathered from your anonymous survey. That is, make it accessible to only a few of your team members who need to directly work with it.

This will help ensure that third parties do not have access to important demographic information about the respondents. Hence, preventing them from matching this information with a particular respondent-especially when dealing with a small group of respondents.

For instance, when carrying out an anonymous employee feedback survey, the responses gathered should not be easily accessible to other employees. This is because more information (e.g. department) about the employee can be easily revealed from the content of their feedback.

  • Security

Ensure that the data collected from the survey is secured from third-party access. Hacking and other possible data breaches should be avoided by providing an extra layer of security on your forms.

Create GDPR compliant surveys to ensure the security of the data submitted by your respondents. When using a third-party online survey builder, ensure that the survey is SSL certified, which means that the responses are sent over a secure encrypted connection.

Looking for an online survey builder that gives your survey optimum security? Try Formplus.

  • Be honest with the respondent

Build trust with the respondent by embracing honesty when creating an anonymous survey. Do not assure the respondent of anonymity while you secretly go ahead to track respondents’ IP addresses and personal information.

This unfair practice can be observed in some companies that go on to find out employee’s identities even after promising anonymous employee feedback. Some unethical HRs even go the extra mile of gossipping employee responses amongst themselves.

This will discourage employees from giving sincere reviews about the organization in the future. 

  • Give opt-out option

Do not compel respondents to respond to your questions when carrying out an anonymous survey. Give them an option that allows them to opt-out of responding to particular questions-most especially demographic questions.

Rather than asking a simple “yes” or “no” close ended question, add a “prefer not to say option” that allows respondents to opt-out from giving a response. This will give the respondent the impression that you are not trying to forcefully let them give an answer to your question.

You should also try not to enforce a response on the respondents by staying away from form validation. That is, making particular questions on the survey compulsory.

  • Avoid form logic

Try not to be too smart when creating anonymous surveys by asking questions based on the respondent’s previous answers. This way, you are passing a wrong message to the respondent on how you are using their data.  

You may think you have been successful with creating an illusion of what your survey really entails, but respondents may abandon the survey if they feel the questions are becoming larger. Some respondents may, in fact, see this as deceitful, making you lose their trust.

Which Tool Should You Use To Create an Anonymous Survey?

Deciding to create an anonymous survey is easy, but choosing the right tool to create it might be hard. That is why we decided to guide you on the tool to use in creating your next anonymous survey. 

Not sure which tool to use when creating your anonymous survey? Then, look no further than the Formplus online survey builder. Below are some reasons why you should use Formplus to create your anonymous surveys.

  • GDPR compliant

Formplus surveys are GDPR compliant, keeping respondents' data safe from the third party. Hence, you can be assured that your surveys remain anonymous. 

In fact, GDPR compliance is available on all surveys created using Formplus, whether anonymous or not.  

Enable better anonymous survey practice with close-ended feature fields available on Formplus. You can use the choice options to create multiple choice questions, rank-order choice questions, and Likert scale questions.

This can be done in different ways, including checkboxes, radio buttons, matrix scales, star rating scales, emoji rating scales, etc. These are dynamic ways in which close-ended questions can be asked depending on where it is being used.

For example, star and emoji rating scales are well suited for collecting customer feedback. However, it will be highly inappropriate for an online voting system.

  • Cloud storage integration

The responses obtained from your anonymous survey are stored in secure cloud storage. This storage platform will help prevent third party access to respondents’ data and can be accessed remotely across your personal devices with the login details. 

You can also choose to store respondents’ data in your personal cloud storage. Formplus currently supports Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Google Drive integrations.

  • Intro and Post submission page

Add an introductory message to your anonymous survey so that the respondents can know what the form is about. You can also use this opportunity to inform them of the survey’s anonymity in order to increase the response rate. 

A post-submission page can also be added at the end of the survey to let respondents know that you have received their responses. This page can also be used to share some information about your organization and a call to action button.

You can also take advantage of the offline features provided by Formplus to further improve the response rate in your survey. The offline feature allows respondents to submit their responses without access to an internet connection.

Respondents living in remote areas with a fluctuating internet connection can submit their responses when offline, and it will be automatically synced into the Formplus storage once a connection is detected.

  • Mobile-friendly forms

The surveys generated on Formplus are mobile-friendly, making it easy for respondents without computer access to fill out your survey. This will help increase the response rate because of its accessibility across internet-enabled devices. 

How to Create an Anonymous Survey with Formplus 

Follow the following simple steps to create an anonymous survey using Formplus.

Create a survey

To create a new survey on Formplus, go to Forms in the top menu, then click on the Create Form button.

survey-form-builder

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Alternatively, you can go to your  Dashboard, then click on the Create new form button. 

formplus-online-form-builder

Add questions to your survey

Once you create your survey, go to the left sidebar in the form builder to add your own questions. Since you are interested in creating an anonymous survey, you should try to ask more close-ended questions. Hence, click on Choice Options in the sidebar and choose your choice from the available options.

anonymous-survey-form-builder

If you have a long survey, you can also break it up into multiple pages by clicking on the New page button in the lower right corner of the form builder. This will help you organize your survey into sections, making it easier for respondents to fill.

Customize your survey

After your questions and page structure are in place, you can click on the Save button in the top-right corner of the form builder and you will be automatically directed to the Customise page. On this page, you can beautify your survey by adding a logo, color, font, background image, etc. using the built-in Formplus features. Alternatively, you can add your own custom CSS. 

  • Preview & Share With Respondents

After fine-tuning the look of your survey, you can preview and share it with your respondents.

customise-survey-form

There are many sharing options available on the sidebar. You can customize your form links, embed it on your website, share via social media, etc.

Advantages of Anonymous Survey

  • Provides Honest Feedback

People will freely give their honest feedback when they are kept anonymous. This is particularly very useful when carrying out employee feedback surveys because most employees are usually afraid to speak up due to fear of job loss.

Anonymous surveys help organizations get a clear picture of how their employees’ feelings about their work and the entire company culture. Hence, making the employees feel engaged and that their thoughts count.

  • Increase Response Rates

Respondents are more likely to fill out your surveys if they are assured of anonymity. This is because people who lack confidence now feel more comfortable sharing their opinions because their identity is hidden.

Response rates will automatically increase especially in cases whereby the responses obtained from the survey are considered when making decisions. 

  • Informed Decision Making

Organizations are able to make informed decisions from honest opinions collected from an anonymous survey. They gather the correct information, leading to better decision-making regarding the activities of the organization.


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Disadvantages of Anonymous Survey

  • Response bias

Respondents are more likely to give biased responses when they realize that they are anonymous. In most cases, this kind of biased response usually involves giving false responses.

Today, we see various people opening anonymous social media accounts to troll, share false information, and defame others. They have the freedom to do these despicable acts because of their anonymity.

This can also occur in an organization, with employees sharing wrong information about others due to personal differences.

  • Irrelevant information

Anonymous surveys can be used by respondents for spamming and passing irrelevant information. Since the responses cannot be traced to anyone, people use that opportunity to fill the surveys with irrelevant information. 

For instance, fraudsters can send spam links through an anonymous survey with hopes that the data collector will click the link. One may have to deal with these kinds of links since information about the President cannot be accessed. 

  • Follow-up difficulties

Sometimes you may need to take further action on the responses received from the survey, but find it difficult due to lack of respondent's contact information. This may be regarding a specific problem that was identified and needs more insight from the respondent.

When a customer complains that a restaurant's service is bad, for instance, the management needs to know why the customer feels the same way. Although a better way to do this is by asking open-ended questions, it also has its setbacks.

Best Practices For Creating Anonymous Surveys

  • Add an Extra Layer of Security

When creating an anonymous survey, researchers should try to add an extra layer of security on the forms with the CAPTCHA. With the Captcha feature, you can prevent spamming and irrelevant information on your surveys.

  • Ask Close-ended questions

Another way to avoid irrelevant information is by adding close-ended questions. Rather than ask open-ended questions, you can structure your close-ended questions in such a way that it answers the required questions for the survey.

This will also help in avoiding some kind of response biases on your form. For example, rather than ask an open-ended question like, "What don't you like about our service?" make the respondent rate each of the components of service delivery in your business over a matrix scale.

  • Respondent Identification System

If the system is so anonymous that nothing is being tracked about the respondent, then this will give room for multiple responses from one respondent. Hence, creating a response bias, which is something we definitely don’t want to happen.

In order to prevent this from happening, you need to create an identification system that sees who has already taken the survey. Don’t worry about breaching your anonymity agreement, you can prevent people from taking the survey multiple times without knowing who they are. 

Each IP address will be assigned to a unique encrypted value, making it easy for you to filter out duplicate values. You need to understand that the aim of an anonymous survey is not to have identifiable people, but not to have the answers matched to the respondents.

anonymous-survey-formplus

Conclusion 

Anonymous surveys are one of the good survey practices, which is proven to be very useful in different areas of business, politics, academics, etc. In addition to increasing response rates, it helps to avoid issues that may arise from being able to identify the person behind a response.

With an online voting system, for instance, voters’ identity may be known, but one can not identify who each voter voted for. This is the same case with an employee or student feedback survey, thereby preventing possible backlash on the respondent due to human emotions.

Organizations have also been able to benefit from these anonymous surveys by making better decisions, generating a good work culture, and offering better customer services. 

Create Anonymous Surveys with Formplus




  • Formplus Blog
  • on 12 min read

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