When administering surveys, OIRE will always inform you of the level of confidentiality you can expect. With a few exceptions—enumerated below—responses to surveys administered by OIRE are kept confidential.
Confidential means that OIRE staff have access to information about who took a given survey, but this information is never available to anyone outside the office. When survey results are kept confidential, OIRE will never associate a survey respondent’s name or ID with their survey response in any kind of reporting. When survey results are reported, they are always aggregated—that is, individual survey results are combined together and presented as a group. Results for groups of fewer than three people are never reported when there is any risk of breach of confidentiality.
- Anonymous surveys. When we indicate that a survey is anonymous, it means that we have no way of associating any survey response with the person who submitted that response. If we are utilizing Qualtrics to administer the survey, we may set the survey up in such a way that we can issue prospective respondents personalized links, which are used for targeting reminders to individuals who have not yet taken the survey. However, we have no way of knowing which person is associated with which link or with which survey response, thus keeping the data anonymous.
- Specific questions on a confidential survey, when notice is given. In some cases, another office at Tufts may request a set of identified survey responses for specific questions on a survey. In these cases, we will always notify respondents of this intention, and we will always give respondents a way to opt out of sharing their data in this way.
- Surveys with no promise of confidentiality. If we make no promise of anonymity or confidentiality, either in the survey invitation or on the survey instrument itself, names or IDs may be associated with survey responses. This information may be shared with other Tufts employees for use in their work. Non-anonymous, non-confidential surveys are conducted very rarely.
- Allegations of or references to discrimination or harassment, or other violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1965. As stated in its non-discrimination policy, Tufts University is committed to the principle of equal opportunity in education and employment. Tufts prohibits discrimination against and harassment of any student, employee, applicant for employment, third party or community member because of race; color; national or ethnic origin; age; religion; disability; sex; sexual orientation; gender; gender identity and expression; including a transgender identity; genetics; veteran status; retaliation; and all other characteristics protected under applicable federal or state law. The University expects all Tufts employees, students, and community members to uphold this commitment. In accordance with university policies, when members of OIRE read survey comments that reference incidents of harassment, discrimination, or unequal treatment based on the characteristics listed above, we must report that comment, along with the name of the person who made the comment, to the Office of Equal Opportunity. The University recognizes the importance of confidentiality and understands that some individuals who write survey comments related to harassment/discrimination may want their identity to remain anonymous and/or confidential. In all cases, issues of confidentiality must be balanced against the University’s need to investigate and take appropriate action.
- Comments that indicate that a respondent poses a danger to themselves or others. If threats of harm to self or others are made in survey comments, we may pass those comments to other individuals within the university to take appropriate action.
If you ever have any questions about the confidentiality of survey responses, please do not hesitate to contact us.