The Administration of an Online Factorial Survey using Qualtrics Software

Helena Mc Elhinney, Marlene Sinclair, Brian Taylor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Introduction: The administration of factorial survey has developed from the traditional methods of providing participants with a low cost set of written vignettes in person to the use of expensive sophisticated online software packages such as Project Implicit. However, new online approaches are being piloted using affordable licensed software such as Qualtrics. This paper will describe a novel approach to a factorial survey on child safeguarding in pregnancy- professional decision making using Qualtrics. Methodological issues: Factorial survey in Qualtrics involves a method of entering questions into blocks in the usual manner but with the addition of a backdrop of variables entered as embedded data. This enables the automatic randomisation of variables within each set of unique vignettes presented to participants accessed through one link generated for all.Findings: Many challenges emerged during this process. The development of the vignettes relies on careful manipulation of variables and levels of variables entered as embedded data. Wording, positioning of blocks and case sensitive piped in data (variables) are important elements which need careful planning in order for the factorial survey to be executed effectively using this software package. Potential challenges can arise in terms of randomisation of variables and their “true to life” presentation within vignettes e.g. the likelihood of an under 16yr old who is pregnant being prescribed methadone. However, it is possible for the embedded data to be manipulated in this case to prevent variables “under 16’s and methadone” appearing in the same vignette.Conclusion: Qualtrics is a cost-effective method of distributing building and distributing factorial surveys.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherBrunel University London
Number of pages1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 30 Mar 2016
EventInternational Symposium on Factorial Survey 2016 - London
Duration: 30 Mar 2016 → …


ConferenceInternational Symposium on Factorial Survey 2016
Period30/03/16 → …


  • Factorial survey
  • Qualtrics
  • Software
  • survey development
  • decision making
  • judgement
  • child safeguarding
  • pregnancy
  • midwife
  • social work
  • vignettes
  • assessment


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