Qualtrics – Editing an Active Survey

Before making changes to an active survey, review Qualtrics's recommendations for editing an active survey to avoid losing or altering data.

Once you are certain your changes will not affect your data, you can begin editing. Your edits will be saved as a survey version. After the edits are complete, the survey must be republished to make the changes visible to respondents. Check out this guide on Survey Publishing and Versions to understand when and how your changes will go live.

You can still make changes to your survey even after it’s activated, but you’ll want to be cautious about making changes if you have already collected real data. Certain survey alterations can invalidate or delete parts of your already collected survey data. This section will describe which changes will delete data, and which changes will not delete data.


What Will Respondents See if I Make Changes?

Changes will only be presented to respondents after you click the Publish button. Then, only respondents who didn’t start the survey until after you published will see new changes you’ve made to the survey.

If you want respondents who started before you published to experience the changes, then they will need to start their survey over.

  • If you distributed the survey through email or personal links, send them a new individual link.
  • If you distributed the survey through the anonymous link, ask them to clear their browser cache, open an incognito window, or try to take the survey in a different browser.

If you have a publishing status of Changes Live, or know you activated your survey before publishing existed, your changes will go live before you publish! However, only respondents who start the survey after you’ve made changes will see them.

If you click Publish, all changes made from that point on will not go live until published. This is the standard for surveys with publishing.


What Kind of Changes are Okay?

The following edits will not delete previously gathered survey data:

  • Superficial text edits (e.g., fixing a typo or changing the font).
  • Adding questions anywhere in the survey.
  • Adding choices to the end of a list of choices.

Warning: An exception to this statement is the drill down question (all other question types can be updated according to this statement). A limitation of this question type is that you cannot update the answer choices after you have collected responses without invalidating the previously collected data. (“Collected data” includes preview and test responses.) 2 possible workarounds include creating a copy of the survey before you update the answer choices to avoid invalidating any data, or creating a new drill down question with the updated answer choices and using display logic to hide the previous question.


What Kind of Changes are not Okay?

The following edits will delete or alter previously gathered survey data:

  • Changing the question type.
  • Enabling or disabling Autocomplete for text entry questions.
  • Modifying the response requirements or validation of a question.
  • Rearranging answer choices with Copy & Paste (use Move Up and Move Down in the choice menu instead).
    Dropdown arrow next to a question choice reveals menu
  • Deleting questions or answer options (deleting a question or answer also deletes all response data associated with that question or answer).
  • Adding or removing loop and merge.
  • Reversing answer choice order when using suggested answer choices.

We recommend never deleting questions or answer choice options. Instead, we recommend hiding unwanted questions and answer options with display logic or undisplayed items in advanced randomization, which will preserve the already collected data.

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Article ID: 2510
Thu 8/5/21 10:24 AM
Mon 10/23/23 2:40 PM