SurveyMonkey and IRB Guidelines

Students are certainly permitted to conduct research via the SurveyMonkey platform, provided that they abide by our Terms of Use. Many students use SurveyMonkey to conduct research for their dissertations or graduate work.

This help article outlines the potential guidelines for using SurveyMonkey as a tool to survey research participants. These are criteria that most university IRB’s recommend when using an online survey tool to collect data. It is important to engage your Institutional Review Board to approve.

Obtaining Written Permission to Conduct Research Using SurveyMonkey

We are happy to assist you with getting the approvals you need to perform your student research. Here is a letter on SurveyMonkey letterhead that you can provide to your IRB to evidence permission to use the SurveyMonkey platform to conduct your research: Permission to Conduct Research Using SurveyMonkey (PDF)

Secure Transmission

  • It is important to enable the SSL encryption feature. Sensitive data must be protected as it moves along communication pathways between the respondent’s computer and SurveyMonkey servers.  Helpful link: SSL Encryption
  • IP addresses should be masked from the survey author. Here is a helpful tutorial demonstrating how to turn off the collection of IP addresses: Turn off IPs.

Informed Consent

  • Be sure to include a consent form for your online survey. This should be on the first page of your survey.  Here is a good example of a survey consent form:
  • Please be sure to include a data confidentiality statement in your consent form. Don’t make guarantees to confidentiality or anonymity.
  • SurveyMonkey records the respondent time stamp. This is important especially for respondents that consented to taking your survey.
  • The survey should allow for “no response “or “prefer not to respond” as an option for every survey question.  A survey where a respondent cannot proceed without answering the question is in violation of the respondent’s right to withhold information.
  • At the end of the survey, the respondent should be given an option to withdraw from survey.

Database and Server Security

SurveyMonkey has physical and environmental controls in place to protect data. Here is a helpful link describing our security details: Security

  • SurveyMonkey will not use the information collected from your surveys in any way, shape or form. In addition, any other material provided to SurveyMonkey (including images, email addresses, etc.) will be held in the strictest confidence. Click here to view our policy: SurveyMonkey Privacy Policy
  • Data is backed up daily on SurveyMonkey servers.

HIPAA Compliance

If you're a covered entity regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and want to collect protected health information in your health and well-being surveys, please see HIPAA Compliance at SurveyMonkey for more details.

Review the potential IRB guidelines for using SurveyMonkey as a tool to survey research participants.