A review of free online survey tools for undergraduate students

Rob Farmer, Phil Oakman, Paul Rice


Undergraduate students are often required to collect survey data as part of their studies, but they rarely receive any detailed guidance on choosing an appropriate free online survey tool. In addition, many universities do not provide undergraduate students with an institutionally supported and managed online survey tool. Because there are so many online survey services available, the lack of an institutionally managed survey tool coupled with a lack of proper guidance on their selection and use can cause a great deal of stress and possible expense to students. In order to alleviate this problem, ten prominent free online survey services were reviewed in order to give students, particularly undergraduate students in higher education, some guidance in this matter. Three essential criteria were borne in mind when evaluating the tools: ease of use; ability to export data, and; UK Data Protection Act compliance. Although this paper is predominantly focused on UK students undertaking surveys which collect data that could personally identify a respondent, conclusions are generalised to include recommendations for surveys collecting non-personally identifiable data, and for students studying outside of the UK. Based on the findings of the review, students needing to use a free online survey tool are recommended to use eSurv for all surveys, unless they are given alternative directions by academic staff or others at their institution. In addition, we further recommend that both eSurv and Quick Surveys are appropriate for surveys collecting non-personally identifiable data.


Online Survey, Questionnaire, Survey, Market Research, eSurv

Full Text:



Bell, J. and Waters, S., 2014. Doing Your Research Project, 6th edition. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill Education.

BOS, 2016. BOS [online]. Available at: https://www.onlinesurveys.ac.uk [Accessed 18 May 2016].

Opinion of Advocate General Bot, 2015. Case C–362/14: Maximillian Schrems v Data Protection Commissioner. InfoCuria - Case-law of the Court of Justice [online]. Available at: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=168421&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=req&dir=&occ=first∂=1&cid=401385 [Accessed 25 September 2015].

Court of Justice of the European Union, 2015. Press Release No. 117/15: Judgment in Case C-362/14 Maximillian Schrems v Data Protection Commissioner. Politico [online]. Available at: http://www.politico.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/schrems-judgment.pdf [Accessed 6 October 2015].

eSurv, 2015. About eSurv. eSurv [online]. Available at: http://esurv.org/?p=about [Accessed 18 May 2016].

eSurv, 2016a. Data Protection eSurv eSurv [online]. Available at: http://esurv.org/docs/?Security_Statement___Data_Protection [Accessed 18 May 2016].

eSurv, 2016b. Features Overview. eSurv [online]. http://esurv.org/docs/?Features_Overview [Accessed 18 May 2016].

Export.gov, 2015. Safe Harbor. Export.gov [online]. Available at: http://export.gov/safeharbor [Accessed 25 September 2015].

ICO, 2016. Key definitions of the Data Protection Act: What is personal data? Information Commissioners Office [online]. Available at: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/key-definitions/#personal-data [Accessed 18 May 2016].

Rosa, R., Bressan, G., and Toledo, G., 2012. Analysis of online survey services for Marketing Research. International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies, 3(1), pp.135-144.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21100/msor.v15i1.311


  • There are currently no refbacks.