JISC Online Surveys Step by Step

  • The university pays for licenses to use BOS, so you can obtain an account for free.
  • To do so you will need to go to Digital IT’s Service Now Portal (click here). Log in using your network username (e.g. ABC123) and search for “JISC Online Survey Access”.
  • Once you have your account visit www.onlinesurveys.ac.uk
  • Use the ‘sign in’ button in the top right hand corner to sign in to your account.
  • Once you’ve logged in, you will be presented with the BOS dashboard.
  • Shown here will be a list of any surveys you have created, with options to access design, distribution, or analysis areas.
  • To create a new survey, click on the ‘+ create new’ button.
  • You will need to assign a name to your survey, and select ‘Create Survey’
  • Your survey will now appear on the dashboard for accessing at a later date, and you will be presented with the survey builder page.
  • There are 3 tabs at the top of this page; Design, Distribute, and Analyse.
  • For building the survey, you’ll want to stay on the design tab.
  • On the survey builder page you will see a number of menu options presented on the left hand side, with the survey builder interface to the right containing 2 options, add item, and add page.
  • Items include notes and questions, that appear on a page. Each page appears separately to participants.
  • You will want to include at least 2 pages, but we recommend at least 3. The reason for this is that data from each page is not saved until the participant moves to the next page, or selects the finish button on the last page. However, if participants miss the finish button on the last page and exit by closing the browser/tab, the data from this page will not be saved.
  • As such we recommend using your last page for a debrief, and not including any questions on this page.
  • This way if participants do close the browser/tab you will not lose any data.
  • We also recommend using your first page to present your information sheet, request consent, and ask for the participants SONA participation code (ID code), so that you can reward credit to those who complete the survey.
  • Within pages, you can add a number of items.
  • Section – acts like a heading/sub-heading
  • Notes – Used to present textual information
  • You can preview your survey at anytime using the ‘Preview Survey’ button in the survey builder menu.

Bristol Online Surveys (Online Surveys) – Questions

Multiple choice/selection list

  • Participants select from a list of predetermined values.
  • Can be used to select only one response, or multiple responses.
  • Many questionnaires can be broken down into a series of these questions (e.g. Likert responses etc.)

Free text

  • Participants are presented a space in which to type their response freely, with no to minimal restrictions.
  • Can be used for short (single-line) or longer responses (multi-line)

Date and time questions

  • Participants responses must come in the form of times/dates.
  • Can reference current, past or future dates/times.


  • Asks participants to rate things on a scale or rank them in order.
  • Participant can rate along a scale e.g. from A to X.
  • Or participant can rank factors in some form of order


  • Grid questions are a method for you to present multiple similar questions in ‘one block’ rather than as multiple single questions.
  • For example, below is a series of multiple choice (single answer) questions
  • Grids can be used wherever the columns or rows for a series of questions are the same. In the previous example, the columns are all the same, but there is only one question per row. We can introduce more questions for each row, as below.

Setting up your questions

  • The process of setting up your questions is fairly similar across all the question types, so we will only cover one here.
  • After selecting the question type from the drop down presented when you select ‘add item’ you will be presented with a dialogue box in which to enter your question information.
  • Question text: This is where you enter your question.
  • You can add answer options one at a time, or add multiple answers at a time (by entering them on different lines).
  • You can select whether to display answers horizontally or vertically.
  • You should be aware that you can create sub-questions by utilising the ‘add item’ options in the survey builder that are contained within the question box .

Advanced Options

  • A number of advanced options are available for your questions as well, these can be accessed by selecting the ‘advanced options’ link at the bottom of the question set up window.
  • The option here that you will probably find most useful is the ability to set whether questions are ‘optional’ or ‘required’.
  • Routing is also possible based on participant responses. E.g. given a particular answer to a question, participants can be ‘jumped’ to another, specified page of the survey.

Bristol Online Surveys (Online Surveys) – Distribution and Analyse


  • Once your happy with your survey, you will need to set the distribution settings.
  • Check your ‘survey map’ for any errors before doing this.
  • Then move to the distribute tab (at the top of the page).
  • Once you access the distribute tab you will be presented with the survey Launchpad, which summarises the distribution settings.
  • To adjust these settings, select ‘distribution settings’.
  • On the distribution settings page you will need to enter;
  • Opening date for the survey (if it’s ready to go, make it now).
  • Closing date for the survey (this should represent the same deadline you set for participation in SONA).
  • You also need to set maximum responses to the same number as you will of entered in SONA (e.g. the number of participants you stated you would recruit in your ethics application).
  • You can also adapt the survey URL (slightly).
  • Once your happy with these settings, you can return to the survey Launchpad, and click on the ‘Launch Survey’ button to make it accessible.
  • Don’t forget to copy the survey URL to enter into SONA.


  • You will be presented with a page containing options for your data export.
  • Note that the option here for unique response numbers does not relate to the SONA participation code (ID code).
  • BOS can also code responses for you (responses from participants are converted to numerical data where 1 = the first possible response, this will be changed to 0 = first response if you select the option to zero index).
  • Once your happy, select the ‘export data’ button, and an excel file will be downloaded to your PC.

  • Once you have collected all your data, you will need to close your survey (unless the maximum number of responses has been reached).
  • To do this, simply visit the ‘distribution settings’ on the ‘Distribute’ tab, and set the closing date to the current date/time.