Princeton University Survey Guidelines

Survey Guidelines

The volume of survey projects that involve members of the Princeton campus community has increased in recent years to a point that there is concern that the number of surveys has become burdensome and is contributing to a general decrease in survey response rates.  These projects include faculty and student research projects that are an essential component to the University’s teaching and research mission and administrative surveys that collect information used to inform policy and planning discussions on campus. In addition, the University receives many requests each year to join in research projects being conducted by individuals and organizations who are not affiliated with Princeton University. 

The University has adopted the following review process in an effort to (1) manage the number of projects our students, faculty, and staff are asked to participate in; (2) ensure that the projects in which students, faculty, and staff participate are consistent with the University’s mission and priorities; (3) ensure that the projects are conducted in a manner that is consistent with regulatory requirements (such as FERPA and the Common Rule) and (4) ensure the active participation in faculty and student research projects.

For additional information regarding Princeton's current survey plans, please see our Survey Calendar, or contact Jed Marsh.



Research projects involving Princeton students, faculty, or staff that are proposed by individuals or organizations not affiliated with Princeton University

Individuals and organizations who are not affiliated with Princeton University and who would like to invite members of the Princeton University community to participate in a research project must first contact the Vice Provost for Institutional Research.  This office serves as the primary point of contact for all external research proposals that involve Princeton students, faculty and/or staff as subjects.  The Vice Provost for Institutional Research will work with appropriate dean(s) or vice president(s) to determine the university’s ability to participate in the proposed study.  It should be recognized that Princeton declines to participate in many external research projects, given the volume of research projects conducted by its own faculty and students.


Survey research being conducted by Princeton faculty and/or students

Before you can begin your survey, you may need to get approval from the Princeton University Institutional Review Board (IRB).  The IRB is responsible for monitoring all research at Princeton University that involves human subjects.  Before you can begin your study, it must be reviewed and approved by the IRB.  To get your study reviewed, you must complete a standard IRB form (Questionnaire A or B) and provide a copy of your questionnaire and any letters or email messages that will be sent to people you will invite to participate in your study.  In some cases, research projects may be exempt from IRB review if they meet certain criteria.  In such cases, you will need to complete Questionnaire B to request exemption from IRB review.  If you are applying for full review, you will need to complete Questionnaire A.  The application process can now be started using the eRIA-IRB submission system.  If you are unsure how to proceed, please contact the Secretary of the IRB.  For more information, please visit the Human Research Protections Program (HRPP) homepage.

In addition, you will need the approval of the appropriate dean or vice president.  This permission may be obtained by contacting the following offices:

When contacting the appropriate dean or vice president please include the following information:

  1. A copy of your IRB application, including your questionnaire and recruitment letters or posters
  2. A statement about the main objectives of your project and a description of how the survey fits in
  3. A description of your target population
  4. The dates you plan to start and complete your survey

Princeton faculty and students are encouraged to contact the Princeton Survey Research Center, which supports many research projects and can help you navigate the approval process.


Surveys and/or planning studies that will be conducted by an administrative office and/or an academic department that will gather information from Princeton students, faculty, or staff

Administrative units and departments that would like to invite members of the Princeton University community to participate in a survey or planning study should be aware that the University has an on-going survey program that is quite robust and is particularly busy during spring term.  With this schedule in mind, units must contact the Vice Provost for Institutional Research well in advance of the proposed project start date.  The Vice Provost for Institutional Research will work with the unit and appropriate dean(s) and/or vice president(s) to review existing data that may be useful to the project, and to coordinate scheduling of the project to minimize the burden placed upon the target audience.  Project coordinators should plan to complete the online IRB training course and to submit an IRB Questionnaire A or IRB Questionnaire B, which are now part of the eRIA-IRB submission process.