Survey Panel Request

The University of Texas at San Antonio has adopted a new University Survey Policy and Procedure to balance the demand for surveys with their burden on students, faculty, and staff. Institutional Research and Analysis manages a review process that coordinates and limits the number of surveys members of the UTSA community receive to achieve this balance.


A sample panel is a list of individuals recruited to complete a survey. This list typically includes publicly available directory information but may include other data about individuals (e.g., classification, gender).

Background & Rationale

Numerous UTSA offices receive internal and external requests for information related to surveys (e.g., email addresses, FERPA–protected student data, faculty, staff, and alumni contact information). Various units could provide inconsistent responses and risk violations of federal regulations and individual privacy. Multiple offices providing survey panels inhibits our ability to track the number of survey invitations received by the campus community. In addition, there is no understanding of the quality, duplication, or value of the surveys administered. The implementation of a central guidance structure addresses these concerns.


This policy applies to all requests for sample panel information (e.g., email addresses, FERPA–protected student data, personnel, and alumni addresses and data) to directly solicit individual participation from UTSA students, faculty, staff, or alumni in a survey. Distributing surveys to all or a part of the campus community using email distribution is restricted to gathering required data metrics for accreditation, assessment, external reporting, institutional effectiveness reporting, or data-based decision-making.

Beyond these specific purposes, access to all or a sub-set of campus community email addresses to solicit information through an electronic survey must be approved by the Survey Coordinating Group (SCG). This review is specific to any survey distribution method using a direct email invitation or embedding an anonymous survey link in the text of an email.


  • Reduce survey fatigue and redundant survey proliferation.
  • Coordinate the timing of the surveys to maximize their effectiveness.
  • Promote good survey design, sampling, and administration that follows methodological best practices.
  • Prioritize surveys that benefit the broader interests and goals of the University as a whole.
  • Increase survey response rates resulting in more valid survey results.
  • Ensure adherence to federal and state regulations.


  • Surveys of less than 250 UTSA students, faculty, staff, or alumni.
  • Surveys of individuals who are not UTSA students, faculty, staff, or alumni.
  • Student evaluations of courses.
  • Surveys conducted within one classroom or course.
  • Surveys conducted within the membership of a student organization, committee, or academic department/unit where the survey author already has access to the sample panel.
  • Evaluation forms for events, workshops, seminars, or other programs if conducted at the end or soon after the event, workshop, seminar, or program.
  • Institutional or organizational elections.
  • Surveys that recruit participants indirectly using tools such as social media or UTSA Today

Survey Data for Scholarly Research

All requests to gather University data for external use must go through the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Surveys that receive approval from IRB to sample UTSA students, faculty, staff, or alumni do not automatically receive access to sample panel information. Therefore, other methods to solicit participation, such as social media, a website, or an opt-in process, are recommended.

Survey Coordinating Group (SCG)

The review is conducted by the Survey Coordinating Group (SCG), a joint faculty, staff, and student committee. SPG members come from:

  • Institutional Research & Analysis
  • Continuous Improvement & Accreditation
  • Institutional Review Board
  • University Communications
  • Alumni Affairs
  • Business Affairs
  • Faculty Affairs
  • Student Affairs
  • Students


  1. The Survey Coordinating Group (SCG) receives survey related requests and supporting materials submitted online, 30 days in advance of administration, including:
    1. Completed Sample Panel Application
    2. Final survey instrument
    3. Recruitment and reminder emails
    4. Documentation of IRB approval, if applicable
  2. SCG reviews the timing, sampling, ethics and data security, and design of the proposed survey projects to a final determination.
  3. SCG review criteria:
    • The survey has a clear and defined purpose
    • The survey questions will likely meet the survey's purpose
    • The survey is well written
    • The survey is a reasonable length
    • The sample size is reasonable given the justification*
    • The sample population will receive a maximum of four contacts (one initial recruitment and three subsequent reminders)
    • Survey panel members must be allowed to opt-out
    • Survey adheres to all FERPA laws & privacy**
    • Aggregate results are generally expected to be made available to the campus community
    • Survey timing does not conflict with other university initiatives***
  4. SCG approves, suggests modifications, or denies the request.
  5. If approved, Institutional Research and Analysis (IRA) coordinates and provides the sample panel to the requestor.
  6. Survey author submits/publishes aggregated survey results and findings.

* Requests for sample panels greater than 10% of the total population will rarely be approved.
** Requests that require only directory information do not generally require approval from Legal Affairs. However, requests for other student information will require Legal Affairs approval to ensure compliance with FERPA.
*** Potential blackout periods for survey distribution, include final exams, course evaluation, and other institutional survey periods established by the SGC.

Survey Software Requirement

SCG requires that UTSA personnel using approved panels use the survey software licensed by UTSA. Register for a free Qualtrics account here.