How to Create a Survey

We also consult and assist other AUC departments and units in the design, launch, and analysis of their own surveys as they relate to the university’s mission. DAIR offers an online-survey service to AUC faculty and staff. The DAIR staff will help you create a survey to meet your needs such as data gathering, program assessment and review, needs assessment, benchmarking, and special projects. 


1. Requesting a survey

The Office of Data Analytics and Institutional Research assists AUC departments and units in designing, launching, and conducting analysis of surveys to meet needs such as program assessment, assessment of needs, benchmarking, and special projects. To understand your needs and coordinate your survey with other projects, we ask you to read the rest of this document and complete a Survey Request Form. Please remember that the entire process from creation of the survey instrument to data analysis will take several weeks, therefore you need to contact our office well in advance of your expected completion date.

Due to resource limitations, we are not able to offer this service to student groups, and we cannot provide services for dissertation or other personal publication/grant/research purposes. However, our workload permitting, we are available to provide consultation on creating a valid survey instrument. Consultation services are free and open to anyone on campus. After reading the survey guidelines on this page, we welcome you to fill out our Survey Request Form, and we will notify you if we can fulfill your request. Additionally, we would like to direct you to additional resources on designing and conducting surveys. See our webpage on Tips on Survey Development.

2. Survey design

You know best what questions you want to ask on a survey. The survey design process must begin with you taking sufficient time to think about the objectives of the survey and the types of information you want to collect. Some simple thoughts to keep in mind when designing your questions are:

  • What is the overall purpose of my survey? Is it customer satisfaction, needs assessment, educational outcomes assessment, or something else?
  • Will the questions I have in mind provide me information that I can act upon?
  • How would I react to the question being asked? Is it offensive or unclear? Can I think of a way somebody could read the question and misinterpret it?
  • Do I want to use close-ended or open-ended question? Close-ended questions often precipitate in a higher response rate, as well as data that are more easily quantified and analyzed.
  • How will the data be reported and analyzed?

Surveys explicitly or implicitly associated with the Office of Data Analytics and Institutional Research (DAIR) by titles, footnotes, or presence on our website, reflect on the reputation of our office. The Office of Data Analytics and Institutional Research reserves the right, in consultation with the survey's sponsor(s), to edit the survey for purposes of brevity, clarity and/or appropriateness. Further, our office reserves the right to refuse any survey or survey data that does not meet with University standards.

3. Piloting the survey

Prior to distributing any survey, it is recommended that you test the survey by asking a small group to complete the survey and note any uncertainties they have about the meaning of survey items. They may also find formatting, grammar, or spelling errors. This provides one more opportunity to identify and correct misleading questions or other survey problems before distribution.

4. Survey cover letter and incentives

As the client requesting a survey, you should write the cover letter/email message. The message should explain to prospective respondents why they are being surveyed in a concise and friendly manner, and invite them to complete the survey. We can provide you with samples. Our office will insert a standardized paragraph that guarantees the confidentiality of respondents at the bottom of each email.

Incentives, if any, for completing the survey should be mentioned in the original letter/email, as well as in any follow up or reminder messages – for example, cash prizes, gift certificates, or other desirable items can be offered as incentives that will be awarded to one or a number of randomly selected respondents.

5. Survey timing

The timing of your survey is crucial to the success of the survey. Obviously you would not want to send out a student survey during spring break or finals week. Our office will work with you in selecting the most appropriate time period to administer your survey.

6. Survey approval

All research (including interviews, surveys, and questionnaires) involving humans as subjects must be reviewed by the IRB. Provisional approval may be granted by the IRB as needed during the design of a project or preparation of a proposal. Full approval must be sought as soon as feasible, and must be obtained before the involvement of human subjects in the project begins.

Please see The American University in Cairo Research Policies for further information.

If your survey will be conducted outside of the AUC community, further approval needs to be sought from Egyptian authorities. Please see CAPMAS Procedures for Conducting Field Research.

7. Survey distribution and reminders

When surveys are administered from our office, they will be distributed from the email address,, unless otherwise requested. Web surveys are our preferred method since they are inexpensive; they result in a fast response; they minimize data-entry errors; they facilitate email reminders via an authenticated processes; they result in detailed open-ended (e.g. fill-in-the-blank) responses; and they often achieve higher response rates than paper surveys. Reminders will be sent at about one and two weeks after the original distribution. Surveys can often be completed in approximately four weeks from the initial invitation to participate.

8. Analysis

DAIR can provide you with the raw data to complete your own analysis or provide you with an analysis of the data. A brief executive summary along with appropriate tables or charts will be provided if we complete the analysis. Please note that any analysis of the data provided by DAIR will be distributed to you, as well as your supervisor, and other appropriate administrators.

9. Use of results

We believe that surveying is a poor use of University resources if the results are not used effectively. We encourage you to publicly share information about actions taken as a result of survey research, as we believe that individuals are more likely to respond to future surveys if they see the information they provide is being used.

10. Questions?

Please do not hesitate to contact our office with any questions you may have.

Office of Data Analytics and Institutional Research
The American University in Cairo
Administration Building, Office 1028
P.O. Box 74
New Cairo 11835, Egypt
tel 20.2.2615.2230/2233
fax 20.2.2795.7565