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Online Surveys in the Academic Cloud
With our survey service, you may create, carry out and evaluate online surveys (survey administration). This service is operated with the software LimeSurvey.
In general, participation in a survey on our LimeSurvey server is open worldwide, but the survey administrator can set up limitations.
Conditions of Use
Access is available with your AcademicID. This requires:
- Either a user account at GWDG,
which can be requested on our web site. The user account is free of charge.
- Or a user account belonging to Göttingen University or to an institution within the Max Planck Society or another entitled institution.
- If you do not yet have an AcademicID, you'll find a button to “Register” on the Academic Cloud web page by clicking on “Login”. According to your institutional affiliation, you'll either automatically have access to the survey server or, if not, can apply for it by sending an email to email@example.com.
A web browser is needed for using the software.
Registration and Access
To access the service, or to register for it, please go to
You'll be redirected to the Academic Cloud login page where you can log in with your usual credentials either directly or via Federated Login. When you do so for the first time, your LimeSurvey account will be created. It will be ready for use immediately. In LimeSurvey we'll save the following personal data:
- UserID (“Gö*-ID” or AcademicID),
- E-Mail address
- First and last name
By logging off, you'll be again redirected to the Academic Cloud login page.
We recommend to all users of the service to subscribe to the mailing list "survey-users", through which we announce important information about our service.
Cancellation of the account
If you want to cancel your registration for the service, please contact our Support: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To unsubscribe from the mailing list for our LimeSurvey users, you can do this via the https://listserv.gwdg.de/listinfo/survey-users list homepage, or you can tell us to unsubscribe your address.
Currently, our accounting system is under revision. For this time we offer the use of our survey service to our customers from Max Planck Society and Göttingen University for free, i.e. without charging you any Work units ("Arbeitseinheiten / AE). In the future, the service will cost a small amount of AE per survey administrator’s account per month. We’ll inform you in advance before the fee for this service will be introduced. For consulting, we’ll charge our usual fee in Work Units.
Access to the survey server is provided via your AcademicID which allows you to use many of our services. Your AcademicID stores your account settings (name, email address, etc.). Changes to your personal information that you wish to adjust in your user account have to be made at https://academiccloud.de/my-account; no changes can be made within LimeSurvey (under “My Account”). If you change anything here, this will be automatically discarded after you exit LimeSurvey.
How to run a survey
Here is a short description of the workflow:
- Create a new survey.
- By default, newly created surveys are assigned the survey group „Default“. You do not need to change this. If, however, you wish to group your surveys, you can create a new survey group and assign your survey to this group. If so, please take note of this important notice!
- Create a new question group within your survey. Each survey must have at least one group of questions.
- Create one or more questions within your question group.
- Use the the survey preview function to test your survey. Previewing the survey - or single questions or question groups - is possible at any given moment before activating the survey. A test run before activating the survey is recommended.
- If you need a controlled pool of participants with unique tokens for the survey, create a participants' table.
- Activate the survey and invite the participants, either by announcing the survey's URL or, if you use a participants' table, by using its invite function.
- Watch the results or send a reminder to the participants.
- Finish the survey (manually or automatically by setting an end date). The survey may remain active but expired so you'll be able to export it completely with the answers in .lsa format. For information on closing a survey by expiry vs. deactivating, please see the LimeSurvey manual.
- Evaluate the survey's results.
- If needed, export the survey and/or its results. In the LimeSurvey manual you'll find information on exporting answers in different formats.
- Delete surveys and results that are no longer required.
User permissions for survey administrators
The default settings for the user permissions in our survey service don't allow to create or edit design templates (themes) for the surveys. If you plan to use your own themes, please contact our Support: email@example.com.
As soon as you have been granted the permission, you may create your own themes by copying (“extending”) one of the three default core themes “bootswatch”, “fruity” und “vanilla” and save the new theme by a chosen name. Please include your institutions' code or your userid in this name. Themes that cannot be associated to a user or institution may be deleted.
You can then edit your newly created theme according to your requirements. Please do not edit one of the three core themes, and please edit none but your own user themes!
Also, the default settings for the user permissions in our survey service don't allow to create or edit label sets for surveys. Please contact our Support if this permission is needed.
After you have been assigned the permission, you may create and edit your own label sets. Please include your institutions' code or your userid in your label sets' name. Label sets without an identifiable owner or institute may be deleted. Please be sure to only edit your own label sets!
Collaborative survey management
Thirdly, the default settings for the user permissions in our survey service don't allow to collaborate with other users on surveys.
If this is required, please contact our Support: firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll then create a user group and add the desired members to it. You can then allocate survey permissions to the group. Each member of the group must have self-registered for a LimeSurvey account before so they can be added to the group.
To provide permissions for a survey to otheres, please navigate to the survey's settings in the menu on the left side and find the topic “survey permissions” under “Survey menu”. You can grant permissions either to an entire user group of which you are yourself a member, or individual members of the group.
Survey administrators may create their own survey groups to manage their surveys. By default, surveys belong to the “Default” survey group. As the user permissions settings in LimeSurvey do not provide any possibility to protect survey groups from inadvertent editing or use by other survey administrators, we ask you to take extra care when using the survey groups feature. Especially: please never edit or rename the group “Default”!
Exporting and importing surveys
There are several formats available to export surveys, e.g. in order to save them with or without the answers, participants' tokens:
To transfer a survey from one LimeSurvey server to another, export the survey as described above. You can export multiple surveys at the same time by checking them in the survey list and then choosing the desired export function from the dropdown menu.
Then after the export from the source server the survey(s) are transferred to and imported in the target system:
Working with the JSON-RPC-API
With the API, different LimeSurvey functions can be called from other applications.
Please contact our Support: email@example.com, if you wish to use the API with our survey service.
As a local password is required and by default our users and passwords are managed in our IDM, this has to be done with a workaround. We'll create a local survey administrator account in LimeSurvey with which the API can adress the server.
You'll be provided:
- a local LimeSurvey account the password of which will be sent to you via email
- a user group in LimeSurvey with your personal account and the local API account as members
You may then provide survey permissions for your survey(s) as desired to the local user and then use its credentials for the API.
You can carry out a survey with a predefined group of participants by creating a participants' table in LimeSurvey. Every participant accesses the survey with an individual token, which also ensures that everyone answers the survey only once. The token is part of an individualized URL to get to the survey. Emails with invitations and reminders are sent directly out of LimeSurvey if a participants' table is used.
To initialize a participants' table, first click on “Participant settings” in the survey settings. Select “Survey participants” in the upper bar. After clicking on “Initialize participant table” you now have the option to create survey participants manually or to import them from a CSV file. Please read more on this topic in the Informations on the participants' table in the LimeSurvey manual.
If you do not use a participants' table, you'll send the survey's URL, which will be the same for all participants in this case, to your desired group of recipients. In this case also, there are some options you can choose from for the setup of your survey. Please find more information in the participant settings chapter in the LimeSurvey manual.
Please keep in mind that in either case you must comply with data privacy requirements and design your privacy settings and statement correspondingly.
Plugins "Inviter" and "Reminder"
In order to use the Inviter and/or Reminder plugins, it is first necessary to initialize a participant table, as described above. In the next step you can now select the respective plugin in the survey menu in the menu item “simple plugins” and activate it for the survey. For example, you can define for the reminder plugin the interval in which reminder emails should be sent. In addition, you can generate tokens in the Inviter plugin beforehand to make sure that only the desired people have access to your survey.
Note: The invitation and reminder emails are not sent immediately by the respective plugin, but only the next day between 7 and 8 a.m.
Data security and data privacy
The LimeSurvey users may export their own surveys and collected data and are then responsible for storing them in compliance with data privacy laws and regulations for the processing of personal data.
GWDG will delete the surveys and data > 6 months after the survey has been closed from its servers and storage systems.
The LimeSurvey software is installed on servers of the GWDG.
Data collected and processed with the software are stored exclusively on GWDG-owned storage and backup systems and on GWDG's premises. They aren't transferred or made available to third parties.
Data transfer between the GWDG's LimeSurvey server and the web clients (browsers) is encrypted, access to LimeSurvey for survey administrators is password-protected. The password may not be given to third parties. Access to the database where the surveys and data are stored is restricted to database administrators at GWDG.
The survey administrator is responsible for the compliancy with the GDPR (DSGVO) of the European Union when collecting and processing personal data. In the application form for a UserID the five data privacy classes (Schutzstufen) for personal data A-E are mentioned (see also the information of the State Commissioner for Data Protection for Lower Saxony). On the GWDG's computer systems no personal data belonging to classes D or E may be stored or processed.
Survey data have to be deleted by the survey's administrator as soon as they are no longer needed. GWDG will delete data from all surveys whose end date is more than 6 months ago. If you need the data for a longer period, please export them in due time.
Survey data including personal and/or delicate information have to be stored in a secure place and protected against unauthorized access. Please note that personal data have to be deleted as soon as they are no longer needed for evaluation. This includes also participants' tables for the surveys.
Data privacy statement and imprint on the survey web pages
GWDG provides the server infrastructure (web server and MySQL database server) and the software for creating and conducting surveys, LimeSurvey. The data privacy statement that can be found as a link on the survey administration pages refers exclusively to this service provided by GWDG.
Customers using our service to conduct surveys (“survey administrators”) are responsible for the content of their surveys and the usage and protection of any data collected with these surveys. Please ask your institution's data protection officer for the directives to be observed.
Within each survey, information has to be made available on its owner (name, address, e-mail address) on an imprint page. Surveys aimed at persons under the age of 14 years must not be conducted without the legal representative, usually the parents. Surveys conducted within an enterprise or institute may be subject to co-determination rights of the institution's employee representative body. Copyright law has to be respected when using texts, images, video or audio material created by third parties.
Within a survey, these informations should be presented to participants, e.g. in a data privacy statement:
- Who conducts the survey and is responsible for processing the data (name and contact data)?
- What is the purpose of collecting the data?
- Where is the data stored?
- Who has access to the data?
- When will the data be deleted?
- What are the survey participants' rights in relation to their collected data?
This can either be stated in a text on the welcome page of the survey, or can be displayed directly at the beginning of the survey, requesting the survey participant to accept the data privacy statement by activating a check box.
The relevant settings are to be found in the survey menu in “Settings” → “Data policy settings”. Here, a text box for a “Survey data policy message” is available, and a choice of options to “Show survey policy text with mandatory checkbox”:
"Don't show" / "Inline text" / "Collapsible text"
Help and Support
Subscribe to our mailing list to receive up-to-date information, e.g. new or modified features or planned downtimes for maintenance concerning our LimeSurvey service.
For support requests to GWDG: please contact our Support or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In case of any questions around LimeSurvey you may consult the comprehensive manual.
The LimeSurvey forums offer solutions for a variety of issues.
See the links below to find more online instructions and tutorials.
For a quick test of LimeSurvey the demo at limesurvey.org may be used.
Contact and further information
- To register for GWDG LimeSurvey access or all other issues concerning this service, please send an email to email@example.com subject: LimeSurvey. Please mention your name and your GWDG user id or your institutional email address. You will receive an automatic email from the LimeSurvey server with your credentials.
- Information on online surveys in general:
- There are lots of tutorials (as text or video) in different languages, e.g.: