FeatureFriday: Participant management – decide who your survey participants are

What are tokens and in which way are they beneficial?

Surveys can basically be conducted in two different ways: either openly for the general public to access or closed by enabling only specific people to participate. The latter can be achieved in LimeSurvey by using participant management to provide individual participation codes, so-called 'tokens', per respondent. However, this doesn’t just determine who gets to participate in the survey, it also offers other benefits, such as:
  • Importing a list of names and email addresses of those allowed to participate
  • Generating a unique token per participant
  • Sending email invitations to all participants
  • Sending email reminders to those who haven’t participated yet
  • Tracking response statuses
  • Preventing repeated survey participation as well as unauthorized public participation
  • Editing details in participant list
  • Creating templates for email invitations and reminders
Conclusion: the use of tokens gives the survey creator much more control over the targeted selection of participants which directly benefits the results and the overall goal of the survey.

Getting started with token management

There are two ways to get started using the participant management:
1. By clicking Activate this survey in the top left corner of the admin interface, the survey is then published by choosing Save & activate survey.

Activating Survey

Activating Survey
Once done, the option Switch to closed-access mode can be selected to change the default open-access mode to the token-based participation mode.

Closed-Access Mode

Closed-Access Mode
Subsequently, the token participant list is automatically created.

Participant Table

Token Table
2. If the survey is published in open-access mode without setting it to closed-access mode as undertaken in step 1, the participant feature can be activated by clicking Survey participants on the main admin page which will redirect straight to the option of initializing the participant table. Moreover, previous token tables can be restored here if available.

Restoring Previous Participant Table

Restoring Previous Token Table
The admin interface then displays a summary of the token table that contains the total number of records, with no unique token, invitations set, opted out, screened out and surveys completed.

Participant Table Summary

Token Table Summary
In order to fill a participant table with participants, several different approaches can be selected: add participants and their details manually, auto-create masses of dummy tokens or import participant lists from CSV (comma-separated values) files or LDAP (lightweight directory access protocol) queries.

Creating Participant List

Creating Participant List
When adding participants manually, all the necessary details such as name, email address, validity date range etc. need to be provided.

Adding Participants

Adding Survey Participants
Creating dummy participants enables the mass-production of tokens at once. Details such as name, email address and language will remain identical for every token generated in the process. The number of tokens as well as the length of tokens can be defined as required.

Dummy Participants

Dummy Participants
When uploading participant data from a CSV file, certain settings can be adjusted according to the formatting of the file. For example, separators used, email filters and duplicate handling can be changed.

CSV File Participant Import

CSV File Participant Import
If participant data is obtained from a LDAP query, this can be done by the system administrator using the LDAP plugin.
The buttons Display participants and View in CPDB (central participant database) lead to participant overviews and provide valuable insights on the status of survey participants as well as offer options to edit participant details.

Participant Table Overview

Token Table Overview
Advanced Tip: if you want to test if your token management is working smoothly on LimeSurvey, simply create a spreadsheet to import and add fake email addresses as well as fake names. Once imported and working correctly, you ought to receive tokens for these fake positions. Conclusion: LimeSurvey provides great flexibility when it comes to creating token lists. This leads to a more user-friendly participant management system in terms of ease of use as well as personal preference for survey creators.


Things worth knowing about when working with LimeSurvey participants

If neither a fully closed-access mode nor an open-access mode is desired, LimeSurvey also offers a hybrid access mode which allows the survey to be taken by the general public, but with the addition of requiring a token to participate. All that has to be done in this case is to turn on the option Allow public registration in the main survey settings.

Open-Access Mode With Tokens

Open-Access Mode With Tokens
A participant table be used both for anonymous and non-anonymous surveys. This is determined when creating a survey. If a survey is not anonymous (or 'tracked'), then the token list can be used to find the responses that a participant has submitted. If the survey is anonymous, then there is no link available between the token table and the participants’ responses.
When all is taken care of, the survey can be sent out to participants. LimeSurvey supplies all options necessary to send out survey invitations.

Invitations & Reminders

Invitations & Reminders
Upon clicking Send email invitation, the (default) email template is provided in all languages selected for the survey and can be sent out to the participant list.

Invitation Email

Invitation Email
Analogous to the latter, Send email reminder offers the same interface, but adds the option to set minimum and maximum days between reminders.
Advanced Tip: you don’t necessarily have to settle for our default email templates. You may compose your own by using all the formatting functionalities that are available when creating survey questions. Hereby, you can build templates for all your participant emails, e.g. invitation, reminder, confirmation, registration as well as admin notification emails. Visit our manual to find out more about all valid email placeholders that can be used to successfully write your email templates.
Important to consider when sending out emails to participants is to take care of bounce settings in case emails can’t be delivered successfully. Certain details, such as survey bounce email address, server information and encryption type need to be determined by the survey creator. Our manual contains more detailed information on how to fill out the fields.

Email Bouncing

Email Bouncing

Leverage the powerful participant table feature in your own surveys

LimeSurvey offers all features to paid subscriptions as well as free users. The token management function is no exception here. Give it a try and set up your participant list with LimeSurvey! Simply click here to get started. If you want to learn more about tokens in LimeSurvey, visit our LimeSurvey manual.

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