• How To Draft A Survey Disclaimer: Important Laws, Examples

Moradeke Owa

Surveys are an important method for collecting research data . However, respondents may be hesitant to provide their data if you do not guarantee their data security.

Respondents’ concerns usually revolve around their privacy, identity, and the research’s purpose; this is where a survey disclaimer can help. Adding a survey disclaimer to the questionnaire assures respondents of how their data will be processed and its security.

What Is a Survey Disclaimer?

A survey disclaimer allows researchers to reiterate their data security and privacy policies. Typically, the disclaimer will state whether or not the responses of the respondents will be shared with third parties. 

The survey disclaimer also informs respondents whether their data will be kept anonymous and if it will be used for marketing purposes.

People usually find it difficult to read disclaimers if they are too long, or they simply assume that it is the same disclaimers they have encountered in the past. So they simply read through the survey and consent to it by checking the “I agree to the terms and conditions” box.

It is advisable to include a consent statement in your survey disclaimer so that respondents understand what they are about to do and how their answers will impact the research.

Why Do You Need a Survey Disclaimer Statement?

Respondents are usually hesitant to disclose identifiable personal information such as names, contact information, addresses, and financial information. Most people also dislike receiving spam emails or having their data exposed to companies they didn’t share it with.

Respondents’ reluctance to divulge information is primarily motivated by a fear that the information will be misused. As a result, a researcher should specify how identifiable personal information will be handled

Study disclaimers help respondents in making an informed decision about whether or not to participate in the survey. Respondents also want to understand the purpose of a survey so that they can decide whether or not to participate in such research.

There are no laws governing survey disclaimers, but there are laws governing privacy and data protection. These laws aim to protect consumers’ or citizens’ privacy and specify how data controllers should process consumers’ data.

A survey disclaimer statement assures respondents that you recognize and follow the law when collecting and processing their information. It also informs respondents about the research’s purpose and objectives, and how the data collected from respondents will be useful to the research.

Four Purposes of a Survey Disclaimer

These are the major reasons why the survey disclaimer is more useful to the researcher seeking the highest possible response rate.

  • It Boosts the Researcher’s Credibility

Respondents associate a survey disclaimer with professionals. As a result, they believe that their information is safer in the hands of a reputable researcher.

  • More Responses

A survey disclaimer statement is an excellent way of gaining the researcher’s trust. An increased survey response rate increases your chances of collecting more diverse and accurate data for your research.

Respondents will readily answer your questions once they are assured of their anonymity, privacy, and confidentiality.

  • It Shows You Adhere to Industry Best Practices

Adding a survey disclaimer statement to your questionnaire shows participants that you adhere to industry best practices. It shows that you follow all applicable data privacy laws and regulations.

  • It Helps Respondents Determine whether or not to Participate in a Study

Your survey disclaimer statement helps respondents decide whether to proceed with answering your questionnaire or abandon it. 

Once they see how you intend to use the data, they can know if it is a cause they want to help with.

Important Laws on Survey Disclaimers

Hipaa act (u.s.).

Although the US does not have one generic law for privacy protection, medical information is taken seriously in all states. The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act specifies the duties of anyone who handles medical information. Universities, researchers, and businesses adhere to HIPAA guidelines.

HIPAA balances the security of health information privacy with issues such as the availability of information to assess treatment, securing public health concerns, and supporting research.

The health care provider is required to always notify the person whose health information is being collected. Also, before the medical provider can process the information, that person must have consented to providing it and allowing the medical provider to process it.

Typically, surveys on mental or physical health include a disclaimer stating that respondents’ personal information will not be associated with the answers they provide. Instead of being associated with any email address, automated online surveys are given random identifying numbers.

This law allows the researcher to collect relevant data while protecting the respondent’s identity.

CalOPPA Act (U.S.)

In 2004, the California Online Privacy Act was enacted. The law stipulates the responsibilities of data controllers.

Data controllers are entities that collect personal data from their users. These entities must notify users before collecting their information according to the CalOPPA Act.

California is one of the most populous states in the United States, and it also has a thriving business community. As a result, if you want to survey in California, you must follow this law.

CalOPPA’s precaution is necessary because online surveys frequently include people from all over the world. So, even if your respondent isn’t from California, you should always follow the law; you never know when you’ll be surveying someone from the Golden State.

CalOPPA requires that every website include an obvious link to the privacy policy. It also includes a list of mandatory requirements for websites’ privacy policies. The following requirements apply to surveys:

  • Accurate description of the kind of personal information collected. 
  • The purpose of collection of that personal information.
  • Identity of third parties who may have access to the personal information collected.

PIPEDA (Canada)

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act of Canada makes provision for surveys sponsored by for-profit surveys. The law requires companies to obtain consent before using or disclosing personal data.

It also states that the use of personal data is limited to the purpose for which it was collected. The purpose should also be stated at the time of collection.

Although PIPEDA is meant to regulate commercial organizations, it also applies to businesses that fall directly under the legislative authority of the legislature. As a result, airports, airlines, banks, public transportation authorities, television and radio broadcasters, telecommunications companies, and offshore drilling operators are all covered by this law.

Since it’s nearly impossible to know which province your respondents are from, it’s best to follow this law whenever you conduct a survey or involve anyone in Canada.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation does not specifically address surveys. Rather, it covers all aspects of data collection and processing.

Data must be collected lawfully and processed lawfully and fairly. The GDPR includes data protection principles such as accountability, specifying the purpose of collection, the right of data subjects to consent or object to collection or processing, and the right of data subjects to the erasure of their data.

It also includes the right of data subjects to access their data, the right to rectification where data is incorrect, the right to data portability, and the right to automated decision-making.

So, if your survey is going to collect any personal data, your survey disclaimer statement should include the details of the data needed, how you intend to use the data, and what happens to the data once you’ve finished using it. This standard must be met, especially if you use clickwrap to ensure respondents accept your survey’s terms and conditions.

Important Points to Consider While Drafting a Disclaimer for Your Survey

The survey disclaimer must reflect the type of research you are conducting. For example, the privacy you need to assure respondents of when asking for medical history will be very different from the privacy you need to assure respondents of when surveying their use of public libraries.

People are more likely to keep their medical information private, but if you were researching the use of public libraries, they might be willing to participate.

Here are some of the questions that your survey disclaimer must answer for your respondents:

Purpose of the Survey

Tell them the aim of the study. It will help the respondents know why their honest answers are necessary. 

For example, state that “the responses will be used for general analytical studies only.” That shows the relevance of their answers and assures them of privacy at the same time. 

How You’ll Maintain Their Privacy

This is necessary when collecting personal information. Inform respondents that you intend to contact them again in the future using the contact information they provided.

Also, inform respondents if anyone else with access to the research may have access to their personal information. Also, specify how long you intend to keep their data before erasing it.

If You’re Sharing Their Information With Third-Parties

Disclose whether or not you intend to share data collected with third-party apps, particularly for marketing purposes. Respondents may be reluctant to provide personal information if they’ll end up being bombarded with marketing emails and spam.

The Survey Length and Time

When time is short, it encourages most respondents to respond on the spot. But if the survey is lengthy, it will give them a heads-up and allow them to decide whether or not to answer.

You can do this by stating the number of questions and the average time it takes a person to answer all of them.

How to Draft a Survey Disclaimer

Before settling on the survey disclaimer to draft, consider the type of information you need. If your survey requires information that people are willing to give a total stranger, such as perceptions of public events or consumer products, a general survey disclaimer will most likely suffice.

Regardless of how impersonal you think the information is, respondents are understandably concerned about what happens after the information is provided. 

If the product you need the survey for is pretty personal, respondents may also feel exposed. So, it’s important to reassure them that their names, addresses, and contact information will not be made public.

Include an “I agree” checkbox at the bottom of the consent form, allowing respondents to choose whether or not to participate in the survey after reading the disclaimer.

You may draft a survey disclaimer that integrates your privacy policy with a hyperlink. However, it is preferable to summarize your privacy policy in simple and easy-to-understand language in that disclaimer statement.

Examples of Survey Disclaimers

The following questions will be used for general analytical purposes only. Although your email address is sent along with your answers, your specific responses will not be linked to you in any way once the responses are posted on the website. 

After your results are added to the final tally, your email address will be deleted from any records we may have. So, you will not be added to any mailing lists you didn’t subscribe to. No third party will be given access to your responses. Only numerical results will be displayed.

Going ahead to participate in this survey implies that you understand and agree to the provisions in this disclaimer.

Researchers often struggle with choosing between the ability to track respondents and maintaining respondents’ anonymity. Keeping responses anonymous ensures that they are honest and accurate while keeping respondents’ identities allows researchers to contact them if additional input is required.

We maintain the privacy and confidentiality of our survey participants with Respondent Anonymity Assurance (RAA). Once the RAA is activated, it can neither be removed nor edited by the researchers.

Hey, glad to see you around here!

Thank you for deciding to help by taking our ten minutes survey.🙂

We at xxx seek to collect the right data about [survey subject]. Our target audience is everyone who is [target audience]. This is why we need you!

Your data is safe with us. We’ll use it only for this research and delete it afterward. We promise.

Your privacy policy probably includes your best data privacy practices, but survey disclaimers help to reassure your respondents. Respondents have to feel safe to provide the requested information, even if it is not personally identifiable information.

Also, keep your survey disclaimer language simple and clear. Unlike privacy policies, which are often lengthy, survey claimers should be very easy to understand.


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Survey Disclaimer: What it is + Why It’s Important

A survey disclaimer is a way for researchers to reiterate their privacy policies and data security measures. Learn more about it.

Surveys are an effective means of data collection. However, getting respondents to take an online survey might be difficult if you don’t assure them privacy. Or if they are skeptical about how their answers will be used. After all, everyone wants to know the survey goals and objectives before answering the questions.

The information gathered in this survey disclaimer is solely intended for research purposes. It does not provide personalized medical advice, as our primary aim is to address securing public health concerns on a broader scale.

Adding a disclaimer in the questionnaire is an excellent practice to get more responses. It aids in reassuring the audience that their data is safe. Organizations can stay transparent and let the participants know how their responses will be used.

What is a survey disclaimer?

A survey disclaimer is a way for researchers to reiterate their privacy policies and data security measures. After answering the questionnaire, you can let the survey takers know what they can expect.

A survey disclaimer is a way to ensure that the participants know if their responses will be anonymous or used for any marketing purposes. Organizations can take this opportunity to let them know if their data will be shared with any third party.

Usually, people do not go through the terms and conditions before consenting to the survey. Most participants would quickly glance through the policies and tick the ‘I agree to the terms and conditions.’ checkbox.

Adding a survey consent statement will ensure that the participants know what they are about to do and how their responses will impact the research study.

Why do you need a survey disclaimer statement?

A survey disclaimer or survey consent statement is not mandatory to include in the survey as per the laws. However, many government regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, and others, aim at protecting consumers’ privacy.

Survey participants might not want their names to be disclosed with sensitive information, so you can let them know about your company’s various data privacy and security measures. 

Respondents are reluctant to share their Personal Identifiable Information (PII), such as email addresses, because they fear they will get promotional, spam, or junk emails. 

Hence, market research companies should show a survey disclaimer statement before asking the questions and highlight if their PII  is safe. If no PII is being collected, mention the purpose of the survey and how the data will be used.

Here are why you should add a survey privacy disclaimer or ask consent questions.

  • It increases the credibility of researchers: Respondents will be willing to answer questions once they know their anonymity, privacy, and confidentiality.
  • Get more responses: Respondents are likelier to answer questions from a trustworthy organization, increasing the survey response rate .
  • Industry best practice: It is good to share with your survey participants that your survey tool and method adhere to various data privacy laws and regulations.
  • Allow participants to decide if they want to answer the survey:  Let them know how you will use the data, and then give them an option if they want to proceed further. It also emphasizes that respondents’ consent matters to your organization.

Example#1: Survey disclaimer statement

Consider a student who wants to conduct research on alcohol. If the sample audience is evenly distributed, it is likely that a few people may not consume alcohol. 

The survey consent statement provides more information about the survey and checks with the participants if they are willing to proceed further with the checkbox ‘I agree”.

LEARN ABOUT: Survey Sample Sizes

Example #2:  Anonymous survey example

Researchers often struggle while choosing between the ability to track the respondents and not linking their identity. Keeping responses anonymous ensures the responses are honest and accurate, while the identity details allow researchers to contact respondents if further inputs are required.

QuestionPro allows our users to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of the survey participants with Respondent Anonymity Assurance (RAA). There will be a link to more details for surveys with RAA enabled in the footer. Once it is activated, it cannot be removed or edited by the researchers.

Four purposes of a survey disclaimer

A survey disclaimer is a statement that outlines the terms, intentions, and limitations of a survey, helping respondents understand what to expect and protecting the organization or individual conducting the survey. Here are four key purposes of a survey disclaimer:


1. Informed consent

A survey disclaimer informs respondents about the purpose and objectives of the survey. It ensures that respondents are aware of the data they are providing, how it will be used, and their rights regarding participation. Informed consent is crucial for maintaining ethical research practices and respecting participants’ autonomy.

2. Data usage

The disclaimer clarifies how the collected data will be used. It may explain whether the data will be anonymized, aggregated, or used for specific research purposes. This helps respondents feel more comfortable sharing their information and reduces concerns about their data being misused or shared without their knowledge.

3. Confidentiality and privacy

A survey disclaimer outlines the measures taken to protect respondents’ confidentiality and privacy. This can include assurances that responses will be kept confidential, that no personally identifiable information will be shared, and that data will be stored securely. This transparency encourages respondents to provide honest and accurate information.

4. Limitations and accountability

The disclaimer sets expectations about the limitations of the survey. It may specify that the survey represents only a specific population or may not cover all relevant aspects of a topic. Additionally, disclaimers can clarify the contact information of the survey organizers or researchers, providing a point of contact for respondents to specifically address surveys any concerns or questions they might have.

Important points to consider while drafting a disclaimer for your survey

The disclaimer statement depends on the type and purpose of the survey. For instance, if you are a ride-sharing app asking for feedback after a trip, then there is no need to add a disclaimer. However, if you are conducting a deep medical research study, it is advisable to draft a consent statement for your questionnaire. 

Here are some of the basic questions you must answer in the survey disclaimer for your participants.

Q-1: What is the purpose of the survey?

Be explicit about the aim of the study. For instance, you can say, “The responses will be used for general survey disclaimer analytical use only.”

Q-2: How will privacy be maintained?

Respondents’ identity details, such as email address, IP address, location, and country code, are collected unless it is an anonymous survey. You can disclose whether the email address will be linked to the responses in any way. 

Q-3: What happens with personal information collected?

Many surveys collect personal data by asking for contact details such as name, address, phone number, etc. Mention if you conduct GDPR compliant market research . 

Q-4: Will the data portability be shared with third-party apps?

Nobody wants their inbox flooded with unwanted marketing emails. So, disclose whether the email address or individual responses will be shared with third parties.

Q-5: What is the approximate time taken to complete the survey?

This is optional, but you can mention the number of questions in the survey and the approximate time to answer them so that the respondents know beforehand if they want to proceed.

And last but not least, take consent! Ask questions like ‘Do you wish to proceed further?’ or ‘Do you agree with the terms and conditions?’ 

A survey disclaimer statement in the questionnaire reflects the values of researchers and agencies. Hence, if you want your respondents to stay loyal and have a good survey experience, you should disclose any necessary information.

A survey implies a legal formality and a critical component of maintaining transparency, trust, and ethical standards in the survey process. Whether you’re a survey creator or a participant, understanding the importance of survey disclaimers can lead to a more informed and responsible approach to data protection, collection, and analysis.

If you need any help with how to draft a disclaimer in the survey or how to design a survey , feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] .



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Online Survey/Survey Research Guidance

In the course of designing a research project researchers may deem a survey or questionnaire as the best way to gather data from many participants in a short amount of time. When conducting survey research please remember to inform participants of the topics to be discussed, the risks and benefits of participation, and the manner and form in which data will be collected and confidentiality will be maintained. Below you will find more specific guidance on conducting survey research with an eye toward human subjects research compliance. For examples of a paper survey consent paragraph or an online survey consent document please refer to our consent form template page .

Signed Consent or Consent Paragraph

Some surveys may not require signed consent. For surveys where there is minimal risk to participants, where the signature on consent is the only piece of identifying information being collected, and/or for surveys conducted online, it would be best to utilize a simple consent paragraph as opposed to the much longer signed consent form. Please note that even though participants may not be required to sign the consent form, consent is still being obtained and participants should still be given the same type of information (voluntary nature of study, risks, benefits, procedures to maintain confidentiality, etc) as participants who will be physically signing a consent form. The shortened paper survey consent paragraph   or online survey consent acts as a consent document for participants and the process of participants proceeding to the survey and completing it constitutes consent.

Anonymity and Confidentiality

Few surveys are truly considered anonymous. Even though a participant is not being asked for their name in the survey, other pieces of information (IP address, email address, zipcode, etc) and/or demographic questions (sex and race especially in a small sample with low diversity) can potentially be used to glean the identity of individual participants. Also, in a face-to-face survey even if a name is not being recorded the mere fact of the researcher meeting the participant face-to-face negates the concept of anonymity. A more accurate description of survey data would be that it will be confidential meaning that researchers will utilize certain procedures to maintain the confidentiality of participants’ data.

Confidentiality in an Online Survey

For online surveys special attention must be paid to how participants data will be secured. This entails having a familiarity with: the survey software being used, the types of information being collected (IP address, email address), the options the survey software provides regarding what information to collect, the ways in which information will be stored, and how any identifying information will be de-linked from survey data, etc. It is important to note that third party survey software companies (i.e. Survey Monkey, Zoomerang, etc.) differ from software licenses made available through UMass (i.e. – Qualtrics, etc) so the researcher will need to be aware of these differences and the affect this will have on how and where survey data is stored and maintained. Aside from the ways in which any survey software will collect and maintain survey data, the researcher will also need to provide information about how the data, once retrieved from the survey software provider, will be maintained (i.e. – on password protected computers, on password protected cloud storage [What are the Terms Of Service for cloud storage company], etc). This information is necessary for the IRB to assess the level of security and subsequent risk to participants data being divulged. Information regarding data security would need to be included in the protocol submission and in the consent form.

For specific language to use in the consent form regarding confidentiality and data security please see our consent form templates .

Debriefing Process for Online Surveys

Some research requires a debriefing after participants have completed an online survey. Online debriefing forms should be similar to the debriefing process done during in-lab experiments. The debriefing page should come immediately after the last question on the survey. Participants should be thanked for participation and more information as to the purpose of the study should be provided. Also, researchers contact information and information about other resources (IRB info, Health Services, Local Resources) should be provided and participants should be reminded to print a copy of the debriefing form for their records. Participants should also be given the option to withdraw their data at this point (now that they have been fully informed as to the intent and purpose of the study). If they agree to have their data used for the study then they should have an “I Agree” button to click and submit their data online. If they do not agree to have their data used in the study they should have an “I Do Not Agree” button to click so that their data is not submitted and collected online. Please check with the online survey program you are using to ensure that these capabilities are allowed.

For specific language to use in the debriefing form please see our debriefing form template ( general  or deception ).


For recruitment of online surveys please be sure to detail how participants will be made aware of the survey. If emails will be sent out please be sure to follow the appropriate IT, UMass guidelines and policies regarding mass emails or emails to listservs. Approval of mass emails will need to be documented with the appropriate channels before a protocol submission is approved. For more information on recruitment please see our website .

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Instrument Permissions FAQ

Download a pdf of this faq  , download the template permission letter, permissions to use and reproduce instruments in a thesis/dissertation frequently asked questions, why might i need permission to use an instrument in my thesis/dissertation.

  • Determine whether you need permission
  • Identify the copyright holder
  • Ask for permission
  • Keep a record
  • What if I can't locate the copyright holder?

If you want to use surveys, questionnaires, interview questions, tests, measures, or other instruments created by other people, you are required to locate and follow usage permissions. The instrument may be protected by copyright and/or licensing restrictions.

Copyright Protection

Copyright provides authors of original creative work with limited control over the reproduction and distribution of that work. Under United States law, all original expressions that are “fixed in a tangible medium” are automatically protected by copyright at the time of their creation. In other words, it is not necessary to formally state a declaration of copyright, to use the © symbol, or to register with the United States Copyright Office.

Therefore, you must assume that any material you find is copyrighted, unless you have evidence otherwise. This is the case whether you find the instrument openly on the web, in a library database, or reproduced in a journal article. It is your legal and ethical responsibility to obtain permission to use, modify, and/or reproduce the instrument.

If you use and/or reproduce material in your thesis/dissertation beyond the limits outlined by the “fair use” doctrine, which allows for limited use of a work, without first gaining the copyright holder’s permission, you may be infringing copyright.

Licensing/Terms of Use

Some instruments are explicitly distributed under a license agreement or terms of use. Unlike copyright, which applies automatically, users must agree to these terms in order to use the instrument. In exchange for abiding by the terms, the copyright holder grants the licensee specific and limited rights, such as the right to use the instrument in scholarly research, or to reproduce the instrument in a publication.

When you ask a copyright holder for permission to use or reproduce an instrument, you are in effect asking for a license to do those things.

How do I know if I need permission to use instruments in my thesis/dissertation research? (Adapted from Hathcock & Crews )

Follow the four-step process below:

1. Determine whether you need permission

There are different levels of permissions for using an instrument:

a)  No permission required

i. The copyright holder has explicitly licensed the use of instrument for any purpose, without requiring you to obtain permission.

ii. If you are only using a limited portion of the instrument, your use may be covered under the Fair Use Doctrine. See more here:  https://uhcl.libguides.com/copyright/fairuse .

iii. If the instrument was developed by the federal government or under a government grant it may be in the public domain, and permission is therefore not required.

iv. If the document was created before 1977, it may be in the public domain, and permission is therefore not required. See the Stanford Public Domain Flowchart at https://fairuse.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/publicdomainflowchart.png .

b)  Non-commercial/educational use: The copyright holder has licensed the instrument only for non-commercial research or educational purposes, without requiring you to obtain the permission of the copyright holder. Any other usage requires permission.

Sample Permission for Educational Use:

Test content may be reproduced and used for non-commercial research and educational purposes without seeking written permission. Distribution must be controlled, meaning only to the participants engaged in the research or enrolled in the educational activity. Any other type of reproduction or distribution of test content is not authorized without written permission from the author and publisher. Always include a credit line that contains the source citation and copyright owner when writing about or using any test.

Source: Marta Soto, “How Permissions Work in PsycTests,” APA Databases & Electronic Resources Blog. American Psychological Association. http://blog.apapubs.org/2016/12/21/how-permissions-work-in-psyctests/ .

Even if you are not required to obtain permission to use the instrument, consider contacting the author for ideas on how to administer and analyze the test. Authors often welcome further use of their work, and may request you send them a copy of your final work.

c)  Permission required:  Instruments that require you to obtain the permission of the copyright holder, regardless of whether the use is for educational or commercial purposes. This may be because the copyright holder

  • has important directions for how the test must be administered and analyzed
  • wants to make sure the most current version is being used
  • charges users a fee in order to administer the test

If you cannot locate the permissions, you are required to identify the copyright holder and contact them to ask about permission to use the instrument.

2. Identify the copyright holder  (Adapted from Crews )

The next step is to identify who owns the copyright. The copyright holder is usually the creator of the work. If the copyright owner is an individual, you will need to do the usual Internet and telephone searches to find the person. Be ready to introduce yourself and to explain carefully what you are seeking.

Some authors transfer copyright to another entity, such as a journal publisher or an organization. In these cases, you must obtain permission from that entity to use or reproduce the instrument. You can often identify the owner by locating a © copyright notice, but as mentioned above, not all copyrighted works have a notice.

Check the following sources to locate instruments, their copyright holders, and their permission statements:

  • Mental Measurements Yearbook: https://uhcl.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?authtype=ip,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=mmt
  • PsycTESTS: https://uhcl.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?authtype=ip,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=pst
  • Neumann Library Tests & Measures help: https://uhcl.libguides.com/PSYC/tests
  • Library assistance e-mail: [email protected]

​You may need to contact the author or publisher directly to find out who owns the copyright. Publishers often have websites that prescribe a method for contacting the copyright owner, so search the publisher website for a permissions department or contact person. Be sure to confirm the exact name and address of the addressee, and call/e-mail the person or publishing house to confirm the copyright ownership.

  • The copyright owner may prefer or require that permission requests be made using a certain medium (i.e. fax, mail, web form, etc.). If you do not follow instructions, you may not get a reply.
  • Telephone calls may be the quickest method for getting a response from the owner, but they should be followed up with a letter or e-mail in order to document the exact scope of the permission. E-mail permissions are legally acceptable in most cases, but getting a genuine signature is usually best.
  • The request should be sent to the individual copyright holder (when applicable) or permissions department of the publisher in question. Be sure to include your return address, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail address, and the date at the top of your letter or message. If you send the permission request by mail, include a self-addressed, stamped return envelope.
  • Make the process easy for the copyright owner. The less effort the owner has to put forth, the more likely you will get the permission you need. If you are using conventional mail, include a second copy of your request for the owner’s records.
  • State clearly who you are, your institutional affiliation (e.g., University of Houston-Clear Lake), and the general nature of your thesis/dissertation research.

Do not send permissions letters to all possible rightsholders simultaneously. Taking the time to find the person who most likely holds the copyright will better yield success. If you do not have much information about who actually owns the copyright, be honest with your contacts, and they may be able to help you find the right person.

3. Ask for permission  (Adapted from  Crews )

Once you have identified the copyright holder, you must determine the scope of your permission request. Some copyright owners furnish their own permission form that you may download from their website.

If the copyright owner does not provide a permission agreement form, you may write your own letter ( click here to download a template ). Requests should be made in writing; e-mail is fine for this purpose. A most effective letter will include detailed information concerning your request for permission to use the work. Include the following information:

  • Who: Introduce yourself. Tell who you are, your degree program, and a brief overview of your research.
  • Why: Tell why you are contacting that person or entity for permission.
  • What: Be as specific as possible when you cite and describe the instrument you wish to use. Include whether you plan to use the entire instrument, or if you plan on modifying or adapting any of the questions.
  • How: Tell how you plan to use the instrument. Specify the parameters of your research study, and include any important information about the way you will administer the instrument and/or analyze the results.
  • When: Expected length of the project and time to complete the thesis/dissertation.

Important : Obtaining permission to use an instrument is not the same as obtaining permission to reproduce the instrument in your appendix. If you intend on providing a copy of the instrument in an appendix, ask for separate permissions to do that.

Click here to download a template letter . Feel free to modify and adapt this template for your purposes.

4. Keep a record

After securing permission to use and/or reproduce the instrument, save a copy of the correspondence and the agreement. Documentation allows you to demonstrate to others that you have the legal right to use the owner's work. In the unlikely event that your use of the work is ever challenged, you will need to demonstrate your good faith efforts. That challenge could arise far in the future, so keep a permanent file of the records. Moreover, you might need to contact that same copyright owner again for a later use of the work, and your notes from the past will make the task easier.

Upload a copy of your permission letter in Vireo with your thesis/dissertation, or include it as an appendix in the document itself.

What if I can't locate the copyright holder?  (Adapted from Hathcock  & Crews & Pantalony )

In some cases, you may never get a response from the copyright holder or you may never even be able to identify who they are or how to contact them. It can be difficult to know how to proceed when you reach a dead end. Unfortunately, no matter how diligently you have tried to get permission, these efforts cannot completely eliminate the risk of infringement should you proceed to use the work.

Assuming you have diligently investigated your alternatives, do not want to change your project, and remain in need of the elusive copyright permission, the remaining alternative is to explore a risk-benefit analysis. You need to balance the benefits of using that particular material in your given project against the risks that a copyright owner may see your project, identify the materials, and assert the owner’s legal claims against you. Numerous factual circumstances may be important in this evaluation. The “benefit” may depend upon the importance of your project and the importance of using that particular material. The “risks” may depend upon whether your project will be published or available on the Internet for widespread access—as theses and dissertations will. You ought to investigate whether the work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office and weigh the thoroughness of your search for the copyright owner and your quest for appropriate permission.

Undertaking this analysis can be sensitive and must be advanced with caution and with careful documentation. You may be acting to reduce the risk of liability, but you have not eliminated liability. A copyright owner may still hold rights to the material. Members of the University of Houston-Clear Lake community should consult with their chair or the Neumann Library to discuss their options.

Portions of this FAQ are used and adapted from:

Crews, Kenneth and Rina Elster Pantalony. “Special Cases.” Columbia University Copyright Advisory Services. https://copyright.columbia.edu/basics/special-cases.html . Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

Crews, Kenneth. “Asking for Permission.” Columbia University Advisory Services. https://copyright.columbia.edu/basics/permissions-and-licensing.html . Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

Hathcock, April. “Getting Permission.” NYU Libraries Copyright Library Guide, https://guides.nyu.edu/c.php?g=276785&p=1845968 . Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0).

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  • How to Frame and Explain the Survey Data Used in a Thesis

Surveys are a special research tool with strengths, weaknesses, and a language all of their own. There are many different steps to designing and conducting a survey, and survey researchers have specific ways of describing what they do.

This handout, based on an annual workshop offered by the Program on Survey Research at Harvard, is geared toward undergraduate honors thesis writers using survey data.

PSR Resources

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How to make a GDPR compliant survey

  • Written October 15, 2021
  • by Stefan Debois

The GDPR data protection law came into effect in the EU on May 25, 2018. While the law itself is quite complicated, complying doesn’t have to be as hard.

When you’re using Pointerpro, you’re collecting and processing data. If that data can be used to identify an individual, it’s wise to make a few small updates in your questionnaires.  Learn more about whether or not that data falls under the GDPR here.

In this blog post, we’ll explain what you can do to make your surveys and quizzes GDPR-proof and protect your respondents’ data.

Remember that this article is meant to be seen as a resource and not as legal advice. We encourage you to search for legal advice on how to comply with GDPR and determine what effect it has on your organization.

Considerations to make before you create your survey

First, when creating (or updating) your surveys to comply with GDPR, it’s wise to consider what you’ll be using the data for.

Is it an entirely anonymous survey?  

Ensure that even a combination of the information you collect cannot help you identify a person.

For example, if you’re asking the employees of a specific department in your office to take an anonymous survey where you ask them what age range they’re in and what gender they are… That’s entirely fine!

BUT if in that specific department there’s only one woman in the age range between 31 and 40, then the data can be used to identify that person, and the GDPR applies.

Is the data you collect for internal use only?

Check whether or not the data you collect will be used internally and in what departments it can be accessed.

For example, if you collect email addresses on an event and those addresses will be added to a CRM where your sales team can access them for further follow-up, you’ll have to communicate this upfront.

Another example is that GDPR also applies to employees. Even if you create a survey that collects data from the people you already know, consider who will have access to the information. A colleague’s home address cannot be shared with another colleague who wishes to send a birthday card unless that colleague has given consent for that address to be shared.

Will the data only be saved on your Pointerpro account?

Or do you plan on transferring it to other apps as well? Any third-party processor you use is directly and legally obligated to also be in compliance . It’s wise to check if they do before transferring any more collected data. 

What will you do with the data?

Before launching your survey it’s more important than ever to list what you plan on doing with it. Each different aspect should be mentioned in your privacy policy and should be attached to your survey.

Moreover, specific actions such as marketing communication or a sales follow up require specific consent from the respondent, aside from being mentioned in the privacy policy.

Is the first checklist done? Then it’s time to get down to business…

4 Quick Things You Can Include to Comply With the GDPR

1. add a short introduction on the intro screen of your survey. .

Simply inform your respondents about what you’ll be using the survey for (like you did before) and specifically state what will be done with the collected personal data.

For example:

  2. Link to a privacy statement with all necessary information.

The essentials of what you should include in your privacy statement are listed later on in this blog post. There are two ways you can include your privacy statement in your survey.

dissertation survey disclaimer

3. Add active opt-ins near your form fields

Make sure that you add your opt-ins the right way. Keep in mind that consent requests need to meet these requirements:

  • Unbundled : Consent requests should be separate from other terms and conditions and they cannot be a precondition of signing up to a service unless necessary for that service.
  • Active opt-in : Pre-ticked opt-in boxes are invalid. Luckily the tool only offers unticked opt-in boxes. Another option is to use similarly active opt-in methods. For example: A binary choice where both options are given equal prominence.
  • Granular : Give granular options to consent separately for different types of processing wherever appropriate. For example:  A separate opt-in for a subscription to the newsletter and a subscription to updates of partner companies.
  • Named : Name your organization and any third parties who will be relying on consent. Even precisely defined categories of third-party organizations aren’t sufficient under the GDPR.

dissertation survey disclaimer

4. Provide additional information on why you need specific information

For example, if you’re asking for a date of birth. You could add something along these lines: Your date of birth helps us provide you with special promotions and purchase benefits during your birthday month.

These small changes can make a very big difference! An essential additional to-do is updating your privacy policy.

While this article is in no way legal advice, the items mentioned below make a great guideline to cover your basics. 

What to Include in a GDPR-Proof Privacy Policy:

Basic information about:.

  • Who you are;
  •  What you are going to do with your respondents’ data;
  •  Who this collected data will be shared with.

Insights in and proof of how personal data will be used in a fair way:

Explain how the data obtained will be used in a way that people reasonably expect.

  • Show awareness of the impact and ramifications of the processing of that personal data.
  • Be transparent and ensure that people know how their data is used.

Showing fairness in your privacy policy is the key to establishing trust, which is needed for consent! So be as straightforward as possible about what data you have, why you will be using it and how long you plan on holding on to it.

Answers to the following questions:

What kind of data do you collect from customers, in minute detail?

  • Do you have good reason to collect this data? Why do you need it?
  • How was the data obtained, exactly? Did users consent to the collection of their information?
  • How long will you retain it?
  • How secure is the data in your possession?
  • Do you ever share the personal information of users with third parties? Do you have good reason to do so?

Clear overview of user rights:

Under the GDPR, user rights are clearly defined. Make sure respondents know they have the right to:

  • Access, view and edit their own information in a timely manner. In the case of Pointerpro, this means that they can request the data that was collected while they took a survey or quiz . You can easily provide this information by  downloading the responses of that specific individual in a PDF report .
  • Be erased from your records upon request, unless you have a legal reason to hold their information. In the case of Pointerpro, this means you can offer respondents to be “anonymized”, deleting the data that can help identify them but keeping the other responses intact. OR you can offer respondents to be deleted along with all of their responses.
  • Access to clear instructions on how to object to or opt-out of marketing messages and/or targeted advertising from your business.

What will happen in the case of a data breach:

If this happens, a couple of actions must take place:

  • The data breach must be detected and reported to the appropriate authorities within 72 hours.
  • If the security of user data is put at risk, then the affected or potentially affected users must be informed within 72 hours as well.

The list of essentials to add to your privacy policy was taken from  this excellent source. 

Tips for complying with the GDPR

There are tons of great examples of adaptations made to comply with the GDPR. Many of those can inspire to create better, stronger survey experiences as well.

Here are some of our favorites!

1. Clarify why people are receiving certain information

Focus on highlighting the added value of being subscribed. Found via Optinmonster .

dissertation survey disclaimer

2. Just-in-time privacy notices

Just-in-time privacy notices that give short, understandable snippets of information at the moment you need it. Found via econsultancy.com .

3. Use “human” language in your privacy policy

In this case, it makes it almost fun to read and it’s clear and relatable for all audiences. Read the entire thing at TurnkeyLinux.org .

dissertation survey disclaimer

4. Add a “plain English” version 

There’s a simple explanation next to each “serious” aspect of the privacy policy. Great approach, found via Codepen.io .

dissertation survey disclaimer

What’s next?

  • Read the  GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) basics : The most important GDPR principles, Data Controlling, Data Processing, but also what consequences can you face for not being GDPR compliant.
  • Discover  what updates were made in the Pointerpro tool  to make the software and your questionnaires GDPR proof: Data collection features: IP address & user agent are default on “nocollect”, Automatically add an “unsubscribe” link in your email invitations, Anonymising responses and more.

Create your own assessment for free!

About the author:.

Stefan Debois

Stefan Debois

3 responses.

Hi Stefan Thanks For Share wonderful information for GDPR very informative

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect in May 2018. The motive behind introducing such a regulation was to provide data subjects with more control over their personal data. data protection policy template

Thanks very much for the advice and information

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How to Write a Dissertation | A Guide to Structure & Content

A dissertation or thesis is a long piece of academic writing based on original research, submitted as part of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree.

The structure of a dissertation depends on your field, but it is usually divided into at least four or five chapters (including an introduction and conclusion chapter).

The most common dissertation structure in the sciences and social sciences includes:

  • An introduction to your topic
  • A literature review that surveys relevant sources
  • An explanation of your methodology
  • An overview of the results of your research
  • A discussion of the results and their implications
  • A conclusion that shows what your research has contributed

Dissertations in the humanities are often structured more like a long essay , building an argument by analysing primary and secondary sources . Instead of the standard structure outlined here, you might organise your chapters around different themes or case studies.

Other important elements of the dissertation include the title page , abstract , and reference list . If in doubt about how your dissertation should be structured, always check your department’s guidelines and consult with your supervisor.

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Table of contents

Acknowledgements, table of contents, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review / theoretical framework, methodology, reference list.

The very first page of your document contains your dissertation’s title, your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date. Sometimes it also includes your student number, your supervisor’s name, and the university’s logo. Many programs have strict requirements for formatting the dissertation title page .

The title page is often used as cover when printing and binding your dissertation .

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The acknowledgements section is usually optional, and gives space for you to thank everyone who helped you in writing your dissertation. This might include your supervisors, participants in your research, and friends or family who supported you.

The abstract is a short summary of your dissertation, usually about 150-300 words long. You should write it at the very end, when you’ve completed the rest of the dissertation. In the abstract, make sure to:

  • State the main topic and aims of your research
  • Describe the methods you used
  • Summarise the main results
  • State your conclusions

Although the abstract is very short, it’s the first part (and sometimes the only part) of your dissertation that people will read, so it’s important that you get it right. If you’re struggling to write a strong abstract, read our guide on how to write an abstract .

In the table of contents, list all of your chapters and subheadings and their page numbers. The dissertation contents page gives the reader an overview of your structure and helps easily navigate the document.

All parts of your dissertation should be included in the table of contents, including the appendices. You can generate a table of contents automatically in Word.

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If you have used a lot of tables and figures in your dissertation, you should itemise them in a numbered list . You can automatically generate this list using the Insert Caption feature in Word.

If you have used a lot of abbreviations in your dissertation, you can include them in an alphabetised list of abbreviations so that the reader can easily look up their meanings.

If you have used a lot of highly specialised terms that will not be familiar to your reader, it might be a good idea to include a glossary . List the terms alphabetically and explain each term with a brief description or definition.

In the introduction, you set up your dissertation’s topic, purpose, and relevance, and tell the reader what to expect in the rest of the dissertation. The introduction should:

  • Establish your research topic , giving necessary background information to contextualise your work
  • Narrow down the focus and define the scope of the research
  • Discuss the state of existing research on the topic, showing your work’s relevance to a broader problem or debate
  • Clearly state your objectives and research questions , and indicate how you will answer them
  • Give an overview of your dissertation’s structure

Everything in the introduction should be clear, engaging, and relevant to your research. By the end, the reader should understand the what , why and how of your research. Not sure how? Read our guide on how to write a dissertation introduction .

Before you start on your research, you should have conducted a literature review to gain a thorough understanding of the academic work that already exists on your topic. This means:

  • Collecting sources (e.g. books and journal articles) and selecting the most relevant ones
  • Critically evaluating and analysing each source
  • Drawing connections between them (e.g. themes, patterns, conflicts, gaps) to make an overall point

In the dissertation literature review chapter or section, you shouldn’t just summarise existing studies, but develop a coherent structure and argument that leads to a clear basis or justification for your own research. For example, it might aim to show how your research:

  • Addresses a gap in the literature
  • Takes a new theoretical or methodological approach to the topic
  • Proposes a solution to an unresolved problem
  • Advances a theoretical debate
  • Builds on and strengthens existing knowledge with new data

The literature review often becomes the basis for a theoretical framework , in which you define and analyse the key theories, concepts and models that frame your research. In this section you can answer descriptive research questions about the relationship between concepts or variables.

The methodology chapter or section describes how you conducted your research, allowing your reader to assess its validity. You should generally include:

  • The overall approach and type of research (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, experimental, ethnographic)
  • Your methods of collecting data (e.g. interviews, surveys, archives)
  • Details of where, when, and with whom the research took place
  • Your methods of analysing data (e.g. statistical analysis, discourse analysis)
  • Tools and materials you used (e.g. computer programs, lab equipment)
  • A discussion of any obstacles you faced in conducting the research and how you overcame them
  • An evaluation or justification of your methods

Your aim in the methodology is to accurately report what you did, as well as convincing the reader that this was the best approach to answering your research questions or objectives.

Next, you report the results of your research . You can structure this section around sub-questions, hypotheses, or topics. Only report results that are relevant to your objectives and research questions. In some disciplines, the results section is strictly separated from the discussion, while in others the two are combined.

For example, for qualitative methods like in-depth interviews, the presentation of the data will often be woven together with discussion and analysis, while in quantitative and experimental research, the results should be presented separately before you discuss their meaning. If you’re unsure, consult with your supervisor and look at sample dissertations to find out the best structure for your research.

In the results section it can often be helpful to include tables, graphs and charts. Think carefully about how best to present your data, and don’t include tables or figures that just repeat what you have written  –  they should provide extra information or usefully visualise the results in a way that adds value to your text.

Full versions of your data (such as interview transcripts) can be included as an appendix .

The discussion  is where you explore the meaning and implications of your results in relation to your research questions. Here you should interpret the results in detail, discussing whether they met your expectations and how well they fit with the framework that you built in earlier chapters. If any of the results were unexpected, offer explanations for why this might be. It’s a good idea to consider alternative interpretations of your data and discuss any limitations that might have influenced the results.

The discussion should reference other scholarly work to show how your results fit with existing knowledge. You can also make recommendations for future research or practical action.

The dissertation conclusion should concisely answer the main research question, leaving the reader with a clear understanding of your central argument. Wrap up your dissertation with a final reflection on what you did and how you did it. The conclusion often also includes recommendations for research or practice.

In this section, it’s important to show how your findings contribute to knowledge in the field and why your research matters. What have you added to what was already known?

You must include full details of all sources that you have cited in a reference list (sometimes also called a works cited list or bibliography). It’s important to follow a consistent reference style . Each style has strict and specific requirements for how to format your sources in the reference list.

The most common styles used in UK universities are Harvard referencing and Vancouver referencing . Your department will often specify which referencing style you should use – for example, psychology students tend to use APA style , humanities students often use MHRA , and law students always use OSCOLA . M ake sure to check the requirements, and ask your supervisor if you’re unsure.

To save time creating the reference list and make sure your citations are correctly and consistently formatted, you can use our free APA Citation Generator .

Your dissertation itself should contain only essential information that directly contributes to answering your research question. Documents you have used that do not fit into the main body of your dissertation (such as interview transcripts, survey questions or tables with full figures) can be added as appendices .

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Dissertation surveys: Questions, examples, and best practices

Collect data for your dissertation with little effort and great results.

Dissertation surveys are one of the most powerful tools to get valuable insights and data for the culmination of your research. However, it’s one of the most stressful and time-consuming tasks you need to do. You want useful data from a representative sample that you can analyze and present as part of your dissertation. At SurveyPlanet, we’re committed to making it as easy and stress-free as possible to get the most out of your study.

With an intuitive and user-friendly design, our templates and premade questions can be your allies while creating a survey for your dissertation. Explore all the options we offer by simply signing up for an account—and leave the stress behind.

How to write dissertation survey questions

The first thing to do is to figure out which group of people is relevant for your study. When you know that, you’ll also be able to adjust the survey and write questions that will get the best results.

The next step is to write down the goal of your research and define it properly. Online surveys are one of the best and most inexpensive ways to reach respondents and achieve your goal.

Before writing any questions, think about how you’ll analyze the results. You don’t want to write and distribute a survey without keeping how to report your findings in mind. When your thesis questionnaire is out in the real world, it’s too late to conclude that the data you’re collecting might not be any good for assessment. Because of that, you need to create questions with analysis in mind.

You may find our five survey analysis tips for better insights helpful. We recommend reading it before analyzing your results.

Once you understand the parameters of your representative sample, goals, and analysis methodology, then it’s time to think about distribution. Survey distribution may feel like a headache, but you’ll find that many people will gladly participate.

Find communities where your targeted group hangs out and share the link to your survey with them. If you’re not sure how large your research sample should be, gauge it easily with the survey sample size calculator.

Need help with writing survey questions? Read our guide on well-written examples of good survey questions .

Dissertation survey examples

Whatever field you’re studying, we’re sure the following questions will prove useful when crafting your own.

At the beginning of every questionnaire, inform respondents of your topic and provide a consent form. After that, start with questions like:

  • Please select your gender:
  • What is the highest educational level you’ve completed?
  • High school
  • Bachelor degree
  • Master’s degree
  • On a scale of 1-7, how satisfied are you with your current job?
  • Please rate the following statements:
  • I always wait for people to text me first.
  • Strongly Disagree
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Strongly agree
  • My friends always complain that I never invite them anywhere.
  • I prefer spending time alone.
  • Rank which personality traits are most important when choosing a partner. Rank 1 - 7, where 1 is the most and 7 is the least important.
  • Flexibility
  • Independence
  • How openly do you share feelings with your partner?
  • Almost never
  • Almost always
  • In the last two weeks, how often did you experience headaches?

Dissertation survey best practices

There are a lot of DOs and DON’Ts you should keep in mind when conducting any survey, especially for your dissertation. To get valuable data from your targeted sample, follow these best practices:

Use the consent form.

The consent form is a must when distributing a research questionnaire. A respondent has to know how you’ll use their answers and that the survey is anonymous.

Avoid leading and double-barreled questions

Leading and double-barreled questions will produce inconclusive results—and you don’t want that. A question such as: “Do you like to watch TV and play video games?” is double-barreled because it has two variables.

On the other hand, leading questions such as “On a scale from 1-10 how would you rate the amazing experience with our customer support?” influence respondents to answer in a certain way, which produces biased results.

Use easy and straightforward language and questions

Don’t use terms and professional jargon that respondents won’t understand. Take into consideration their educational level and demographic traits and use easy-to-understand language when writing questions.

Mix close-ended and open-ended questions

Too many open-ended questions will annoy respondents. Also, analyzing the responses is harder. Use more close-ended questions for the best results and only a few open-ended ones.

Strategically use different types of responses

Likert scale, multiple-choice, and ranking are all types of responses you can use to collect data. But some response types suit some questions better. Make sure to strategically fit questions with response types.

Ensure that data privacy is a priority

Make sure to use an online survey tool that has SSL encryption and secure data processing. You don’t want to risk all your hard work going to waste because of poorly managed data security. Ensure that you only collect data that’s relevant to your dissertation survey and leave out any questions (such as name) that can identify the respondents.

Create dissertation questionnaires with SurveyPlanet

Overall, survey methodology is a great way to find research participants for your research study. You have all the tools required for creating a survey for a dissertation with SurveyPlanet—you only need to sign up . With powerful features like question branching, custom formatting, multiple languages, image choice questions, and easy export you will find everything needed to create, distribute, and analyze a dissertation survey.

Happy data gathering!

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How To Write A Dissertation Or Thesis

8 straightforward steps to craft an a-grade dissertation.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Expert Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2020

Writing a dissertation or thesis is not a simple task. It takes time, energy and a lot of will power to get you across the finish line. It’s not easy – but it doesn’t necessarily need to be a painful process. If you understand the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis, your research journey will be a lot smoother.  

In this post, I’m going to outline the big-picture process of how to write a high-quality dissertation or thesis, without losing your mind along the way. If you’re just starting your research, this post is perfect for you. Alternatively, if you’ve already submitted your proposal, this article which covers how to structure a dissertation might be more helpful.

How To Write A Dissertation: 8 Steps

  • Clearly understand what a dissertation (or thesis) is
  • Find a unique and valuable research topic
  • Craft a convincing research proposal
  • Write up a strong introduction chapter
  • Review the existing literature and compile a literature review
  • Design a rigorous research strategy and undertake your own research
  • Present the findings of your research
  • Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications

Start writing your dissertation

Step 1: Understand exactly what a dissertation is

This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but all too often, students come to us for help with their research and the underlying issue is that they don’t fully understand what a dissertation (or thesis) actually is.

So, what is a dissertation?

At its simplest, a dissertation or thesis is a formal piece of research , reflecting the standard research process . But what is the standard research process, you ask? The research process involves 4 key steps:

  • Ask a very specific, well-articulated question (s) (your research topic)
  • See what other researchers have said about it (if they’ve already answered it)
  • If they haven’t answered it adequately, undertake your own data collection and analysis in a scientifically rigorous fashion
  • Answer your original question(s), based on your analysis findings

 A dissertation or thesis is a formal piece of research, reflecting the standard four step academic research process.

In short, the research process is simply about asking and answering questions in a systematic fashion . This probably sounds pretty obvious, but people often think they’ve done “research”, when in fact what they have done is:

  • Started with a vague, poorly articulated question
  • Not taken the time to see what research has already been done regarding the question
  • Collected data and opinions that support their gut and undertaken a flimsy analysis
  • Drawn a shaky conclusion, based on that analysis

If you want to see the perfect example of this in action, look out for the next Facebook post where someone claims they’ve done “research”… All too often, people consider reading a few blog posts to constitute research. Its no surprise then that what they end up with is an opinion piece, not research. Okay, okay – I’ll climb off my soapbox now.

The key takeaway here is that a dissertation (or thesis) is a formal piece of research, reflecting the research process. It’s not an opinion piece , nor a place to push your agenda or try to convince someone of your position. Writing a good dissertation involves asking a question and taking a systematic, rigorous approach to answering it.

If you understand this and are comfortable leaving your opinions or preconceived ideas at the door, you’re already off to a good start!

 A dissertation is not an opinion piece, nor a place to push your agenda or try to  convince someone of your position.

Step 2: Find a unique, valuable research topic

As we saw, the first step of the research process is to ask a specific, well-articulated question. In other words, you need to find a research topic that asks a specific question or set of questions (these are called research questions ). Sounds easy enough, right? All you’ve got to do is identify a question or two and you’ve got a winning research topic. Well, not quite…

A good dissertation or thesis topic has a few important attributes. Specifically, a solid research topic should be:

Let’s take a closer look at these:

Attribute #1: Clear

Your research topic needs to be crystal clear about what you’re planning to research, what you want to know, and within what context. There shouldn’t be any ambiguity or vagueness about what you’ll research.

Here’s an example of a clearly articulated research topic:

An analysis of consumer-based factors influencing organisational trust in British low-cost online equity brokerage firms.

As you can see in the example, its crystal clear what will be analysed (factors impacting organisational trust), amongst who (consumers) and in what context (British low-cost equity brokerage firms, based online).

Need a helping hand?

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Attribute #2:   Unique

Your research should be asking a question(s) that hasn’t been asked before, or that hasn’t been asked in a specific context (for example, in a specific country or industry).

For example, sticking organisational trust topic above, it’s quite likely that organisational trust factors in the UK have been investigated before, but the context (online low-cost equity brokerages) could make this research unique. Therefore, the context makes this research original.

One caveat when using context as the basis for originality – you need to have a good reason to suspect that your findings in this context might be different from the existing research – otherwise, there’s no reason to warrant researching it.

Attribute #3: Important

Simply asking a unique or original question is not enough – the question needs to create value. In other words, successfully answering your research questions should provide some value to the field of research or the industry. You can’t research something just to satisfy your curiosity. It needs to make some form of contribution either to research or industry.

For example, researching the factors influencing consumer trust would create value by enabling businesses to tailor their operations and marketing to leverage factors that promote trust. In other words, it would have a clear benefit to industry.

So, how do you go about finding a unique and valuable research topic? We explain that in detail in this video post – How To Find A Research Topic . Yeah, we’ve got you covered 😊

Step 3: Write a convincing research proposal

Once you’ve pinned down a high-quality research topic, the next step is to convince your university to let you research it. No matter how awesome you think your topic is, it still needs to get the rubber stamp before you can move forward with your research. The research proposal is the tool you’ll use for this job.

So, what’s in a research proposal?

The main “job” of a research proposal is to convince your university, advisor or committee that your research topic is worthy of approval. But convince them of what? Well, this varies from university to university, but generally, they want to see that:

  • You have a clearly articulated, unique and important topic (this might sound familiar…)
  • You’ve done some initial reading of the existing literature relevant to your topic (i.e. a literature review)
  • You have a provisional plan in terms of how you will collect data and analyse it (i.e. a methodology)

At the proposal stage, it’s (generally) not expected that you’ve extensively reviewed the existing literature , but you will need to show that you’ve done enough reading to identify a clear gap for original (unique) research. Similarly, they generally don’t expect that you have a rock-solid research methodology mapped out, but you should have an idea of whether you’ll be undertaking qualitative or quantitative analysis , and how you’ll collect your data (we’ll discuss this in more detail later).

Long story short – don’t stress about having every detail of your research meticulously thought out at the proposal stage – this will develop as you progress through your research. However, you do need to show that you’ve “done your homework” and that your research is worthy of approval .

So, how do you go about crafting a high-quality, convincing proposal? We cover that in detail in this video post – How To Write A Top-Class Research Proposal . We’ve also got a video walkthrough of two proposal examples here .

Step 4: Craft a strong introduction chapter

Once your proposal’s been approved, its time to get writing your actual dissertation or thesis! The good news is that if you put the time into crafting a high-quality proposal, you’ve already got a head start on your first three chapters – introduction, literature review and methodology – as you can use your proposal as the basis for these.

Handy sidenote – our free dissertation & thesis template is a great way to speed up your dissertation writing journey.

What’s the introduction chapter all about?

The purpose of the introduction chapter is to set the scene for your research (dare I say, to introduce it…) so that the reader understands what you’ll be researching and why it’s important. In other words, it covers the same ground as the research proposal in that it justifies your research topic.

What goes into the introduction chapter?

This can vary slightly between universities and degrees, but generally, the introduction chapter will include the following:

  • A brief background to the study, explaining the overall area of research
  • A problem statement , explaining what the problem is with the current state of research (in other words, where the knowledge gap exists)
  • Your research questions – in other words, the specific questions your study will seek to answer (based on the knowledge gap)
  • The significance of your study – in other words, why it’s important and how its findings will be useful in the world

As you can see, this all about explaining the “what” and the “why” of your research (as opposed to the “how”). So, your introduction chapter is basically the salesman of your study, “selling” your research to the first-time reader and (hopefully) getting them interested to read more.

How do I write the introduction chapter, you ask? We cover that in detail in this post .

The introduction chapter is where you set the scene for your research, detailing exactly what you’ll be researching and why it’s important.

Step 5: Undertake an in-depth literature review

As I mentioned earlier, you’ll need to do some initial review of the literature in Steps 2 and 3 to find your research gap and craft a convincing research proposal – but that’s just scratching the surface. Once you reach the literature review stage of your dissertation or thesis, you need to dig a lot deeper into the existing research and write up a comprehensive literature review chapter.

What’s the literature review all about?

There are two main stages in the literature review process:

Literature Review Step 1: Reading up

The first stage is for you to deep dive into the existing literature (journal articles, textbook chapters, industry reports, etc) to gain an in-depth understanding of the current state of research regarding your topic. While you don’t need to read every single article, you do need to ensure that you cover all literature that is related to your core research questions, and create a comprehensive catalogue of that literature , which you’ll use in the next step.

Reading and digesting all the relevant literature is a time consuming and intellectually demanding process. Many students underestimate just how much work goes into this step, so make sure that you allocate a good amount of time for this when planning out your research. Thankfully, there are ways to fast track the process – be sure to check out this article covering how to read journal articles quickly .

Dissertation Coaching

Literature Review Step 2: Writing up

Once you’ve worked through the literature and digested it all, you’ll need to write up your literature review chapter. Many students make the mistake of thinking that the literature review chapter is simply a summary of what other researchers have said. While this is partly true, a literature review is much more than just a summary. To pull off a good literature review chapter, you’ll need to achieve at least 3 things:

  • You need to synthesise the existing research , not just summarise it. In other words, you need to show how different pieces of theory fit together, what’s agreed on by researchers, what’s not.
  • You need to highlight a research gap that your research is going to fill. In other words, you’ve got to outline the problem so that your research topic can provide a solution.
  • You need to use the existing research to inform your methodology and approach to your own research design. For example, you might use questions or Likert scales from previous studies in your your own survey design .

As you can see, a good literature review is more than just a summary of the published research. It’s the foundation on which your own research is built, so it deserves a lot of love and attention. Take the time to craft a comprehensive literature review with a suitable structure .

But, how do I actually write the literature review chapter, you ask? We cover that in detail in this video post .

Step 6: Carry out your own research

Once you’ve completed your literature review and have a sound understanding of the existing research, its time to develop your own research (finally!). You’ll design this research specifically so that you can find the answers to your unique research question.

There are two steps here – designing your research strategy and executing on it:

1 – Design your research strategy

The first step is to design your research strategy and craft a methodology chapter . I won’t get into the technicalities of the methodology chapter here, but in simple terms, this chapter is about explaining the “how” of your research. If you recall, the introduction and literature review chapters discussed the “what” and the “why”, so it makes sense that the next point to cover is the “how” –that’s what the methodology chapter is all about.

In this section, you’ll need to make firm decisions about your research design. This includes things like:

  • Your research philosophy (e.g. positivism or interpretivism )
  • Your overall methodology (e.g. qualitative , quantitative or mixed methods)
  • Your data collection strategy (e.g. interviews , focus groups, surveys)
  • Your data analysis strategy (e.g. content analysis , correlation analysis, regression)

If these words have got your head spinning, don’t worry! We’ll explain these in plain language in other posts. It’s not essential that you understand the intricacies of research design (yet!). The key takeaway here is that you’ll need to make decisions about how you’ll design your own research, and you’ll need to describe (and justify) your decisions in your methodology chapter.

2 – Execute: Collect and analyse your data

Once you’ve worked out your research design, you’ll put it into action and start collecting your data. This might mean undertaking interviews, hosting an online survey or any other data collection method. Data collection can take quite a bit of time (especially if you host in-person interviews), so be sure to factor sufficient time into your project plan for this. Oftentimes, things don’t go 100% to plan (for example, you don’t get as many survey responses as you hoped for), so bake a little extra time into your budget here.

Once you’ve collected your data, you’ll need to do some data preparation before you can sink your teeth into the analysis. For example:

  • If you carry out interviews or focus groups, you’ll need to transcribe your audio data to text (i.e. a Word document).
  • If you collect quantitative survey data, you’ll need to clean up your data and get it into the right format for whichever analysis software you use (for example, SPSS, R or STATA).

Once you’ve completed your data prep, you’ll undertake your analysis, using the techniques that you described in your methodology. Depending on what you find in your analysis, you might also do some additional forms of analysis that you hadn’t planned for. For example, you might see something in the data that raises new questions or that requires clarification with further analysis.

The type(s) of analysis that you’ll use depend entirely on the nature of your research and your research questions. For example:

  • If your research if exploratory in nature, you’ll often use qualitative analysis techniques .
  • If your research is confirmatory in nature, you’ll often use quantitative analysis techniques
  • If your research involves a mix of both, you might use a mixed methods approach

Again, if these words have got your head spinning, don’t worry! We’ll explain these concepts and techniques in other posts. The key takeaway is simply that there’s no “one size fits all” for research design and methodology – it all depends on your topic, your research questions and your data. So, don’t be surprised if your study colleagues take a completely different approach to yours.

The research philosophy is at the core of the methodology chapter

Step 7: Present your findings

Once you’ve completed your analysis, it’s time to present your findings (finally!). In a dissertation or thesis, you’ll typically present your findings in two chapters – the results chapter and the discussion chapter .

What’s the difference between the results chapter and the discussion chapter?

While these two chapters are similar, the results chapter generally just presents the processed data neatly and clearly without interpretation, while the discussion chapter explains the story the data are telling  – in other words, it provides your interpretation of the results.

For example, if you were researching the factors that influence consumer trust, you might have used a quantitative approach to identify the relationship between potential factors (e.g. perceived integrity and competence of the organisation) and consumer trust. In this case:

  • Your results chapter would just present the results of the statistical tests. For example, correlation results or differences between groups. In other words, the processed numbers.
  • Your discussion chapter would explain what the numbers mean in relation to your research question(s). For example, Factor 1 has a weak relationship with consumer trust, while Factor 2 has a strong relationship.

Depending on the university and degree, these two chapters (results and discussion) are sometimes merged into one , so be sure to check with your institution what their preference is. Regardless of the chapter structure, this section is about presenting the findings of your research in a clear, easy to understand fashion.

Importantly, your discussion here needs to link back to your research questions (which you outlined in the introduction or literature review chapter). In other words, it needs to answer the key questions you asked (or at least attempt to answer them).

For example, if we look at the sample research topic:

In this case, the discussion section would clearly outline which factors seem to have a noteworthy influence on organisational trust. By doing so, they are answering the overarching question and fulfilling the purpose of the research .

Your discussion here needs to link back to your research questions. It needs to answer the key questions you asked in your introduction.

For more information about the results chapter , check out this post for qualitative studies and this post for quantitative studies .

Step 8: The Final Step Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications

Last but not least, you’ll need to wrap up your research with the conclusion chapter . In this chapter, you’ll bring your research full circle by highlighting the key findings of your study and explaining what the implications of these findings are.

What exactly are key findings? The key findings are those findings which directly relate to your original research questions and overall research objectives (which you discussed in your introduction chapter). The implications, on the other hand, explain what your findings mean for industry, or for research in your area.

Sticking with the consumer trust topic example, the conclusion might look something like this:

Key findings

This study set out to identify which factors influence consumer-based trust in British low-cost online equity brokerage firms. The results suggest that the following factors have a large impact on consumer trust:

While the following factors have a very limited impact on consumer trust:

Notably, within the 25-30 age groups, Factors E had a noticeably larger impact, which may be explained by…


The findings having noteworthy implications for British low-cost online equity brokers. Specifically:

The large impact of Factors X and Y implies that brokers need to consider….

The limited impact of Factor E implies that brokers need to…

As you can see, the conclusion chapter is basically explaining the “what” (what your study found) and the “so what?” (what the findings mean for the industry or research). This brings the study full circle and closes off the document.

In the final chapter, you’ll bring your research full circle by highlighting the key findings of your study and the implications thereof.

Let’s recap – how to write a dissertation or thesis

You’re still with me? Impressive! I know that this post was a long one, but hopefully you’ve learnt a thing or two about how to write a dissertation or thesis, and are now better equipped to start your own research.

To recap, the 8 steps to writing a quality dissertation (or thesis) are as follows:

  • Understand what a dissertation (or thesis) is – a research project that follows the research process.
  • Find a unique (original) and important research topic
  • Craft a convincing dissertation or thesis research proposal
  • Write a clear, compelling introduction chapter
  • Undertake a thorough review of the existing research and write up a literature review
  • Undertake your own research
  • Present and interpret your findings

Once you’ve wrapped up the core chapters, all that’s typically left is the abstract , reference list and appendices. As always, be sure to check with your university if they have any additional requirements in terms of structure or content.  

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This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

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thankfull >>>this is very useful


Thank you, it was really helpful

Elhadi Abdelrahim

unquestionably, this amazing simplified way of teaching. Really , I couldn’t find in the literature words that fully explicit my great thanks to you. However, I could only say thanks a-lot.

Derek Jansen

Great to hear that – thanks for the feedback. Good luck writing your dissertation/thesis.


This is the most comprehensive explanation of how to write a dissertation. Many thanks for sharing it free of charge.


Very rich presentation. Thank you


Thanks Derek Jansen|GRADCOACH, I find it very useful guide to arrange my activities and proceed to research!

Nunurayi Tambala

Thank you so much for such a marvelous teaching .I am so convinced that am going to write a comprehensive and a distinct masters dissertation

Hussein Huwail

It is an amazing comprehensive explanation


This was straightforward. Thank you!


I can say that your explanations are simple and enlightening – understanding what you have done here is easy for me. Could you write more about the different types of research methods specific to the three methodologies: quan, qual and MM. I look forward to interacting with this website more in the future.

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions 🙂

Osasuyi Blessing

Hello, your write ups is quite educative. However, l have challenges in going about my research questions which is below; *Building the enablers of organisational growth through effective governance and purposeful leadership.*

Dung Doh

Very educating.

Ezra Daniel

Just listening to the name of the dissertation makes the student nervous. As writing a top-quality dissertation is a difficult task as it is a lengthy topic, requires a lot of research and understanding and is usually around 10,000 to 15000 words. Sometimes due to studies, unbalanced workload or lack of research and writing skill students look for dissertation submission from professional writers.

Nice Edinam Hoyah

Thank you 💕😊 very much. I was confused but your comprehensive explanation has cleared my doubts of ever presenting a good thesis. Thank you.


thank you so much, that was so useful

Daniel Madsen

Hi. Where is the excel spread sheet ark?

Emmanuel kKoko

could you please help me look at your thesis paper to enable me to do the portion that has to do with the specification

my topic is “the impact of domestic revenue mobilization.

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Dissertation Questionnaire

dissertation survey disclaimer

A dissertation is a document usually a requirement for a doctoral degree especially in the field of philosophy. This long essay discusses a particular subject matter uses questionnaires   and other sources of data and is used to validate its content. The  questionnaire’s importance is evident in the processes of data gathering as it can make the dissertation factual, effective and usable.

Having a well-curated and formatted document to follow when making a dissertation can be very beneficial to an individual who is currently immersed in the data gathering stage of the specific research study. We have gathered downloadable samples and templates of questionnaires so it will be easier for you to curate your own.

Dissertation Timeline Gantt Chart Template

Dissertation Timeline Gantt Chart Template

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Dissertation Research Gantt Chart Template

Dissertation Research Gantt Chart Template

Size: 43 KB

Dissertation Project Gantt Chart Template

Dissertation Project Gantt Chart Template

Size: 41 KB

Dissertation Plan Gantt Chart Template

Dissertation Plan Gantt Chart Template

Size: 51 KB

Dissertation Research Questionnaire

Dissertation Research2

Size: 18 KB

Dissertation Proposal Questionnaire

Proposal Questionnaire

Size: 131 KB

Sample Dissertation Questionnaire

Sample Dissertation

Size: 10 KB

What Is a Dissertation Questionnaire?

A dissertation questionnaire can be defined as follows:

  • It is a document used in the processes of data gathering.
  • Questionnaires in PDF used for a dissertation contain questions that can help assess the current condition of the community which is the subject of study within the dissertation.
  • It specifies the questions that are needed to be answered to assure that there is a basis in terms of the results that will be presented in a dissertation.

How to Write a Dissertation Questionnaire

Writing an efficient and comprehensive dissertation questionnaire can greatly affect the entire dissertation. You can make one by following these steps:

  • Be specific with the kind of dissertation that you are creating and align the purposes of the dissertation questionnaire that you need to make to your study.
  • List down the information needed from the community who will provide the answers to your questions.
  • Open a software where you can create a questionnaire template. You may also download  survey questionnaire examples   and templates to have a faster time in formatting the document.
  • The purpose of the dissertation questionnaire.
  • The guidelines and instructions in answering the dissertation questions.
  • The name of the person to who will use the questionnaire results to his/her dissertation.
  • The institution to whom the dissertation will be passed.
  • List down the questions based on your needs.

Undergraduate Dissertation Questionnaire

Undergraduate Dissertation

Size: 12 KB

Project Management Dissertation

Project Management Dissertation1

Size: 54 KB

Guidelines for Writing a Dissertation Questionnaire

There are no strict rules in writing a dissertation questionnaire. However, there are some tips that can help you to create a dissertation questionnaire that is relevant to the study that you are currently doing. Some guidelines:

  • Make sure that you are well aware of the data that is needed in your dissertation so you can properly curate questions that can supply your information needs.
  • It will be best to use a dissertation questionnaire format that is organized, easy to understand, and properly structured. This will help the people who will answer the dissertation questionnaire quickly know how they can provide the items that you would like to know.
  • Always make sure that your instructions in answering the questions are precise and directly stated.
  • You may look at  questionnaires in Word   for comparisons. Doing this will help you assess whether there are still areas of improvement that you may tap with the content and format of the dissertation questionnaire that you have created.

Keeping this guidelines in mind and implementing them accordingly will allow you to create a dissertation questionnaire that is beneficial to the processes that you need to have an outstanding dissertation.


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Similar paths make it ‘unlikely’ potential second tornado in Portage will be confirmed

  • Updated: May. 17, 2024, 7:55 a.m. |
  • Published: May. 16, 2024, 3:27 p.m.

Tornado damage in Portage

Trees and power lines lay over a railway tracks in Portage pictured on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. A tornado ripped through the area the evening of May 7. Neil Blake | MLive.com

PORTAGE, MI -- Roughly an hour after Portage residents began assessing the damage from an EF2 tornado on May 7, phones and sirens rang out with a second tornado warning.

It was suspected a second tornado was on the ground. But whether there was a second tornado in Portage is “unlikely” to be confirmed at this point, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Bruce Smith.

Read more on the Portage tornado

  • Portage tornado Week 2: Injury count, before-and-after video and were there 2 twisters?
  • Luxury apartments under construction were damaged by Portage tornado
  • Pitch in for Portage: Rival baseball teams to unite, lift community through tornado
  • Will Portage tornado be a ‘federal disaster’? Damage isn’t the only factor
  • Portage hires College H.U.N.K.S. to help with tornado debris pickup

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Patients love telehealth—physicians are not so sure

IRL or URL? Many physicians and patients used to see medical care as something best done in-person (in real life, or IRL). But the pandemic has spurred a massive transition to virtual (or URL) care. According to our recent surveys of consumers and physicians, opinions are split on what happens next (see sidebar, “Our methodology”). As the pandemic evolves, consumers still prefer the convenience of digital engagement and virtual-care options, according to our recent McKinsey Consumer Health Insights Survey. This preference could help more patients access care, while also helping providers to grow.

Our methodology

To help our clients understand responses to COVID-19, McKinsey launched a research effort to gather insights from physicians into how the pandemic is affecting their ability to provide care, their financial situation, and their level of stress, as well as what kind of support would interest them. Nationwide surveys were conducted online in 2020 from April 27–May 5 (538 respondents), July 22–27 (150 respondents), and September 22–27 (303 respondents), as well as from March 25–April 5, 2021 (379 respondents).

The participants were US physicians in a variety of practice types and sizes, and a range of employment types. The specialties included general practice and family practice; cardiology; orthopedics, sports medicine and musculoskeletal; dermatology; general surgery; obstetrics and gynecology; oncology; ophthalmology; otorhinolaryngology and ENT; pediatrics; plastic surgery; physical medicine and rehabilitation; psychiatry and behavioral health; emergency medicine; and urology. These surveys built on a prior one of 1,008 primary-care, cardiology, and orthopedic-surgery physicians in April 2019.

To provide timely insights on the reported behaviors, concerns, and desired support of adult consumers (18 years and older) in response to COVID-19, McKinsey launched consumer surveys in 2020 (March 16–17, March 27–29, April 11–13, April 25–27, May 15–18, June 4–8, July 11–14, September 5–7, October 22–26, and November 20–December 6) and 2021 (January 4–11, February 8–12, March 15–22, April 24–May 2, June 4–13, and August 13–23). These surveys represent the stated perspectives of consumers and are not meant to indicate or predict their actual future behavior. (In these surveys, we asked consumers about “Coronavirus/COVID-19,” given the general public’s colloquial use of coronavirus to refer to COVID-19.)

Many digital start-ups and tech and retail giants are rising to the occasion, but our most recent (2021) McKinsey Physician Survey indicates that physicians may prefer a return to pre-COVID-19 norms. In this article, we explore the trends creating disconnects between consumers and physicians and share ideas on how providers could offer digital services that work not only for them but also for patients. Bottom line: a seamless IRL/URL offering could retain patients while delivering high-quality care. Everybody benefits.

The rise of telehealth

These materials reflect general insight based on currently available information, which has not been independently verified and is inherently uncertain. Future results may differ materially from any statements of expectation, forecasts, or projections. These materials are not a guarantee of results and cannot be relied upon. These materials do not constitute legal, medical, policy, or other regulated advice and do not contain all the information needed to determine a future course of action.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, both physicians and patients embraced telehealth: in April 2020, the number of virtual visits was a stunning 78 times higher than it had been two months earlier, accounting for nearly one-third of outpatient visits. In May 2021, 88 percent of consumers said that they had used telehealth services at some point since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Physicians also felt dramatically more comfortable with virtual care. Eighty-three percent of those surveyed in the 2021 McKinsey Physician Survey offered virtual services, compared with only 13 percent in 2019. 1 See sidebar on methodology; McKinsey Physician Surveys conducted nationally in five waves between May 2019 and April 2021; May 1, 2019, n = 1,008; May 5, 2020, n = 500; July 2, 2020, n = 150; September 27, 2020, n = 500; April 5, 2021, n = 379.

However, as of mid-2021, consumers’ embrace of telehealth appeared to have dimmed a bit  from its early COVID-19 peak: utilization was down to 38 times pre-COVID-19 levels. Also, more physicians were offering telehealth but recommending in-person care when possible in 2021, which could suggest that physicians are gravitating away from URL and would prefer a return to IRL care delivery (Exhibit 1).

Three trends from the late-stage pandemic

As COVID-19 continues, three emerging trends could set the stage for the next few years.

The number of virtual-first players keeps growing, and physicians struggle to keep up

The growth (and valuations) of virtual-first care providers suggest that demand by patients is persistent and growing. Teladoc increased the number of its visits by 156 percent in 2020, and its revenues jumped by 107 percent year over year. Amwell increased its supply of providers by 950 percent in 2020. 2 “Teladoc Health reports fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 results,” Teledoc Health, February 24, 2021; “Amwell announces results for the fourth quarter and full year 2020,” Amwell, March 24, 2021. By contrast, only 45 percent of physicians have been able to invest in telehealth during the pandemic, and only 16 percent have invested in other digital tools. Just 41 percent believe that they have the technology to deliver telehealth seamlessly. 3 McKinsey Physician Survey, April 5, 2021.

Some workflows, for example, require physicians to log into disparate systems that do not integrate seamlessly with an electronic health record (EHR). Audiovisual failures during virtual appointments continue to occur. To make these models work, providers may need to determine how to design operational workflows to make IRL/URL care as seamless as possible for both providers and patients. The workflows and care team models may need to vary, depending on the physician’s specialty and the amount of time they plan to devote to URL versus IRL care.

Patient–physician relationships are shifting

In McKinsey’s April 2021 Physician Survey, 58 percent of the respondents reported that they had lost patients to other physicians or to other health systems since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Corroborating those findings, our August 2021 survey of consumers showed that of those who had a primary-care physician (PCP), 15 percent had switched in the past year. Thirty-five percent of all consumers reported seeing a new healthcare provider who was not their regular PCP or specialist in the past year. Among consumers who had switched PCPs, 35 percent cited one or more reasons related to the patient experience—the desire for a PCP who better understood their needs (15 percent of respondents), a better experience (10 percent), or more convenient appointments (6 percent). Just half (50 percent) of consumers with a PCP say they are very satisfied. What’s more, Medicare regulations now give patients more ownership over their health data, and that could make it easier for them to switch physicians. 4 “Policies and technology for interoperability and burden reduction,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, December 9, 2021.

Physicians and patients see telehealth differently

Our surveys show that doctors and patients have starkly different opinions about telehealth and broader digital engagement (Exhibit 2). Take convenience: while two-thirds of physicians and 60 percent of patients said they agreed that virtual health is more convenient than in-person care for patients, only 36 percent of physicians find it more convenient for themselves.

This perception may be leading physicians to rethink telehealth. Most said they expect to return to a primarily in-person delivery model over the next year. Sixty-two percent said they recommend in-person over virtual care to patients. Physicians also expect telehealth to account for one-third less of their visits a year from now than it does today.

These physicians may be underestimating patient demand. Forty percent of patients in May 2021 said they believe they will continue to use telehealth in the pandemic’s aftermath. 5 McKinsey Consumer Health Insights Survey , May 7, 2021.

In November 2021, 55 percent of patients said they were more satisfied with telehealth/virtual care visits than with in-person appointments. 6 McKinsey Consumer Health Insights Survey , November 19, 2021. Thirty-five percent of consumers are currently using other digital services, such as ordering prescriptions online and home delivery. Of these, 42 percent started using these services during the pandemic and plan to keep using them, and an additional 15 percent are interested in starting digital services. 7 McKinsey Consumer Health Insights Survey , June 24, 2021.

Convenience is not the only concern. Physicians also worry about reimbursement. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and several other payers switched to at-parity (equal) reimbursement for virtual and in-person visits. More than half of physician respondents said that if virtual rates were 15 percent lower than in-person rates, they would be less likely to offer telehealth. Telehealth takes investment: traditional providers may need time to transition their capital and operating expenses to deliver virtual care at a cost lower than that of IRL.

Four critical actions for providers to consider

Providers may want to define their IRL/URL care strategy to identify the appropriate places for various types of care—balancing clinical appropriateness with the preferences of physicians and patients.

Determine the most clinically appropriate setting

Clinical appropriateness may be the most crucial variable for deciding how and where to increase the utilization of telehealth. Almost half of physicians said they regard telehealth as appropriate for treatment of ongoing chronic conditions, and 38 percent said they believe it is appropriate when patients have an acute change in health—increases of 26 and 17 percentage points, respectively, since May 2019.

However, physicians remain conservative in their view of telehealth’s effectiveness compared with in-person care. Their opinions vary by visit type (Exhibit 3). Health systems may consider asking their frontline clinical-care delivery teams to determine the clinically appropriate setting for each type of care, taking into account whether physicians are confident that they can deliver equally high-quality care for both IRL and URL appointments.

Assess patient wants and needs in relevant markets and segments

Patient demand for telehealth remains high, but expectations appear to vary by age and income group, payer status, and type of care. Our survey shows that younger people (under the age of 55 ), people in higher income brackets (annual household income of $100,000 or more), and people with individual or employer-sponsored group insurance are more likely to use telehealth (Exhibit 4). Patient demand also is higher for virtual mental and behavioral health. Sixty-two percent of mental-health patients completed their most recent appointments virtually, but only 20 percent of patients logged in to see their primary-care provider, gynecologist, or pediatrician.

To meet market demand effectively, it may be crucial to base care delivery models on a deep understanding of the market, with a range of both IRL and URL options to meet the needs of multiple patient segments.

Partner with physicians to define a new operating model

Many physicians are turning away from the virtual operating model: 62 percent recommended in-person care in April 2021, up five percentage points since September 2020. As physicians evaluate their processes for 2022, 46 percent said they prefer to offer, at most, a couple of hours of virtual care each day. Twenty-nine percent would like to offer none at all—up ten percentage points from September 2020. Just 11 percent would dedicate one full day a week to telehealth, and almost none would want to offer virtual care full time (Exhibit 5).

To adapt to these views, care providers can try to meet the needs and the expectations of physicians. They could offer highly virtualized schedules to physicians who prefer telehealth, while allowing other physicians to remain in-person only. Matching the preferences of physicians may create the best experience both for them and for patients. Greater flexibility and greater control over decisions about when and how much virtual care to offer may also help address chronic physician burnout issues (Exhibit 6). Digital-first solutions (for example, online scheduling, digital registration, and virtual communications with providers) could also increase the reach of in-person-only care providers to the 60 percent of consumers interested in using these digital solutions after the pandemic abates.

Communicate clearly to patients and others

Physicians consistently emerge as the most trusted source of clinical information by patients: 90 percent consider providers  trustworthy for healthcare-related issues. 8 McKinsey Consumer Survey, May 2020. Providers could play a pivotal role in counseling patients on the importance of continuity of care, as well as what can be done safely and effectively by IRL and URL, respectively. The goal is to help patients receive the care that they need in a timely manner and in the most clinically appropriate setting.

Potential benefits to providers

The strategic, purposeful design of a hybrid IRL/URL healthcare delivery model that respects the preferences of patients and physicians and offers virtual care when it is appropriate clinically may allow healthcare providers to participate in the near term, retain clinical talent, offer better value-based care, and differentiate themselves strategically for the future.

Telehealth and broader digital engagement tools have enjoyed persistent patient demand throughout the pandemic. That demand may persist well after it. Investment in digital health companies has grown rapidly—reaching $21.6 billion in 2020, a 103 percent year-over-year increase—which also suggests that this approach to medicine has staying power. 9 Q4 and annual 2020 digital health (healthcare IT) funding and M&A report , Executive Summary, Digital Health Funding and M&A, Mercom Capital Group.

That level of demand offers the potential for growth when physicians can meet it. If only new entrants fully meet consumer demand, traditional providers who do not offer URL options may risk losing market share over time as a result of patients’ initial visit and downstream care decisions. What’s more, as healthcare reimbursement continues to move toward value, virtual-delivery options could become a strategic differentiator that helps providers better manage costs. 10 Brian W. Powers, MD, et al., “Association between primary care payment model and telemedicine use for Medicare Advantage enrollees during the COVID-19 pandemic,” JAMA Network , July 16, 2021.

In all likelihood, one of the critical steps in the process will be engaging physicians in the design of new virtual-care models—for example, determining clinical appropriateness, how and where physicians prefer to deliver care, and the workflows that will maximize their productivity. This has the added benefit of potentially also addressing the problem of physician burnout by offering a range of options for how and where clinicians practice.

Most important, virtual care can offer an opportunity to improve outcomes for patients meaningfully by delivering timely care to those who might otherwise delay it or who live in areas with provider shortages. In addition, patients’ most trusted advisers on care decisions are physicians, so virtual care gives them a meaningful opportunity to help patients access the care they need in a way that both parties may find convenient and appropriate. 11 “Public & physician trust in the U.S. healthcare system,” ABIM Foundation, surveys conducted on December 29, 2020 and February 5, 2021.

Physicians are evaluating a variety of factors for delivering care to patients during and, eventually, after the COVID-19 pandemic. The strategic, purposeful design of a hybrid IRL/URL healthcare delivery model offers a triple unlock: improving the value of healthcare while better meeting consumer demand and improving physicians’ engagement. The full unlock is not easy—it requires deep engagement and cooperation between administrators, clinicians, and frontline staff, as well as focused investment. But it will yield dividends for patients and providers alike in the long run.

Jenny Cordina is a partner in McKinsey’s Detroit office,  Jennifer Fowkes is a partner in the Washington, DC, office,  Rupal Malani, MD , is a partner in the Cleveland office, and  Laura Medford-Davis, MD , is an associate partner in the Houston office.

The article was edited by Elizabeth Newman, an executive editor in the Chicago office.

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Interest in This Insanely Simple Home Upgrade Has Skyrocketed—Plus, 5 More Red-Hot Renovation Trends

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Interest in This Insanely Simple Home Upgrade Has Skyrocketed—Plus, 5 More Red-Hot Renovation Trends

Summer is the season for dabbling in home improvement projects—and this year, that tradition is more popular than ever.

According to Yelp’s 2024 Summer Home and Outdoor Trends report, searches for “home renovation” on the site climbed 184% from April 2023 to April 2024. And searches including the term “home contractor” jumped by 83%.

The study also reveals that apartment owners are also climbing aboard the renovation bandwagon, with searches for “apartment design” surging by an incredible 455%.

Curious which amenities and decor details are on the rise? Here are a few you might want to try around your own abode.

1. Soft and glowy lights

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Photo by  Houzz

No. More. Overhead. Lights. This mantra is actually wise counsel when it comes to home illumination. And Yelp’s research backs it up.

Searches for “ambient lights” shot up 106%, while searches for dimmer switches soared an astonishing 508% in one month alone.

A big and bright ceiling fixture, after all, saturates a room in harsh light. Instead, it’s generally nicer to create pockets of light with table lamps, floor lighting, and a variety of shades and warm bulbs for maximum glow.

“Lighting is one of the most accessible ways to improve the ambience of a room—it’s renter-friendly and can be an affordable way to elevate your space,” explains Tara Lewis , a Yelp trend expert.

2. Spa-worthy amenities

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Photo by Marsh and Clark Design  

Whether you call it wellness, mindfulness, or simply down time, self-care amenities are a big deal right now. And searches for at-home spa fixtures are climbing quickly.

Folks are looking for plunge tubs (up 313%), saunas (up 77%), and steam showers (up 38%). Lewis adds these relaxing extras “are little luxuries that homeowners can get to prioritize health and well-being—and big impacts can be made on a range of budgets, too.”

3. Fragrant gardens and flower beds

dissertation survey disclaimer

Homeowners are turning their gardens into fragrant playgrounds this year. Photo by Pamela Bateman Garden Design  

Lilacs, gardenias, honeysuckle, peonies and more—a scented garden is pleasing to the nose.

One scent in particular is seeing big-time growth: Lavender, up 77%; and rosemary is right behind it at 38%. Apparently, lavender is also the new pumpkin spice (who knew?).

Laura Janney , gardening expert, botanical stylist, and the founder of The Inspired Garden , notes that these fragrant gardens aren’t just about smell—the other four senses play a role.

“Bring colors and textures into your garden for visual appeal, edible herbs, or a lemon tree for tasting; and try wind chimes for a soothing background melody,” she suggests.

Another outdoor trend is the surprising uptick (by 61%) in beekeeping.

“And it’s not just about honey—it’s a reflection of our growing connection to nature and the desire to play a role in preserving it,” notes Lewis.

4. Vintage pieces

dissertation survey disclaimer

Americans are now more in favor of vintage, investment furniture pieces. Photo by Tara Bussema  

Many Americans are finally coming around to the idea that fast anything (food, fashion, etc.) isn’t great for one’s health or the environment. Yelp now reports that we’re also shifting away from fast furniture and embracing pieces from bygone eras.

Searches for “vintage decor” are up 57%, and there seems to be a robust interest in restoring or recovering furniture—”chair reupholstery” is up a remarkable 199%.

5. Color analysis

dissertation survey disclaimer

Searches for paint consultants spiked this year. Photo by Stedila Design

Putting up the wrong shade of green is depressing—and costly—but now homeowners are keen to use color analysis to select the perfect hues; searches for for paint consultants are up 20%.

6. Coquette aesthetic

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Romantic decor is all the rage right now. Photo by My Romantic Home  

Last up: romantic decor! This flirty, fun look is called the coquette aesthetic, and it’s one of the most popular looks this summer. Light and airy, pink and girly, “coquette” searches increased an incredible 377%.

In the home, this look translates to lace trim, scalloped edges, gauzy curtains, and elegant, curved lines, such as cabriole legs on a table or chairs.

Jennifer Kelly Geddes creates content for WhatToExpect.com, American Airlines Vacations, Oxo, Livestrong, and Parade.

Twitter Follow @jkgeddes

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