27.5 Administrative Surveys and Questionnaires

(President 11/9/78; amended 8/99; 4/01; 6/01; 1/17; 4/17)

Effective January and April 2017, this policy has been revised. For individual changes, see the redlined version. 

  1. The use of administrative surveys and questionnaires involves several issues that are very important to the University community. The need for the information gained from administrative surveys and questionnaires is occasioned by the responsibility of the University to conduct its affairs in an accountable and open manner. The University has a responsibility to account to the academic community, to public bodies, and to the public, not only for its expenditures of funds, but also for the acts and decisions that it undertakes on behalf of the academic community and the public.
  2. In addition to the institution's academic and public accountability, the University has an obligation to respect and safeguard the individual rights and freedoms of members of the community and of the larger society. Individual privacy is one such concern. Freedom of thought and expression are also important because they are inseparable from the freedom to teach and conduct research.
  3. For these reasons there is a need for regular and consistent review of the written surveys and questionnaires undertaken by University administration. Many research questionnaires in the University will come within the purview of the Human Subjects Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) (see II-27.4). However, the jurisdiction of these committees extends only to the research context and the nature of review centers on the degree of the risk to human subjects and the presence of free and informed consent by the human subjects.
  4. When questionnaires and surveys are undertaken by persons acting in an administrative capacity in the University, or under the auspices of the University administration, the approval of responsible administrative officers is to be secured. Within the colleges, administrative responsibility for approval lies with the dean of the college. Within the non-collegiate administration of the University, it lies with an Administrative Review Panel composed of the University-wide officers responsible for the offices of the Executive Vice President and Provost, Vice President for Research, Vice President for External Relations, Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations, Chief Human Resources Officer, University Hospitals and Clinics, and the deans. The panel or the deans will seek policy advice from the chair of the University committee on human subjects research.

    For implementation guidelines, see https://hr.uiowa.edu/policies/surveys-questionnaires.
  5. The purpose of this panel or dean's review is to consider the institution's need for information in order to be accountable and the concerns for individual privacy. In addition, this procedure provides a more comprehensive view of the many information gathering activities of the University and provides a means for systematic administrative review of such activities.
  6. This policy does not apply to surveys or questionnaires developed by an academic department for use within the department. (See II-27.6 Ethics in Research.)