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Pulling Data Into a Second Survey (Longitudinal Surveys)

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About Pulling Data into a Second Survey

Longitudinal research can involve following up with the same respondents later, in addition to retaining previously provided data about the same respondents. For example, you can use randomly generated IDs to link responses in an anonymous study. As another example, you can carry over certain information respondents have already filled out, such as an email address; the email will be presented to them in the second half of the study, and they can either leave it alone, or change it, if their email has updated.

This support page will explain how to connect data in two different surveys, so that the second survey prepopulates with certain information for the same respondent. You must follow the directions in every section of this support page to successfully complete your project.

Qtip: Remember that changes are only live to your respondents after you publish them! This includes any actions you may have added to your surveys.

Listing Your Fields

This project involves two different surveys and lots of different features. One thing that can help you stay organized is a list of the data you want to transfer from one survey to another. It’s important to think of short, intuitive names for each of these fields, because you will be using these shorthand names throughout the project. You also need to make sure spelling and capitalization stays the same throughout.

For example, let’s say you want to carry over someone’s employee identification number, the office where they work, and the department they work for. Your list might look like this:

  • EmployeeNumber
  • Office
  • Department

You would then want to use these same names throughout. For example, you can’t use “Employee Number” and “EmployeeNumber” interchangeably. Choose one you prefer and stick with it.

First Survey Setup

  1. Create your first survey.
  2. Add all the desired questions.
  3. Go to the Survey Flow.
    Survey Flow button in toolbar
  4. Click Add a New Element Here and select Embedded Data.
    Green Embedded Data option
  5. Click Move and drag this element to the top of the Survey Flow.
    Green element with move in bottom-right
  6. Name this element Login ID. This is going to be the key to linking the two surveys.
  7. Set the Login ID equal to a random number by selecting Insert Piped TextRandom Number, and then entering the range.
    Piped Text menu open to random number option

    Qtip: The best random number ID is 5 characters or more, decreasing the chance respondents can be randomly assigned the same ID. To learn more about generating random IDs, see Assigning Randomized IDs to Respondents.
  8. Click Save Flow.
    Save Flow in green bottom of window to right
  9. Go to the Actions tab.
    Action tab selected in survey. Center of page, blue add action button, with a dropdown showing scheduled and event-based
  10. Make a new event-based action.
  11. Click Choose Event.
    Choose event button in blue, top of new task
  12. Choose Survey Response and Created.
    First dropdowm survey response, second smaller dropdown Created. Lower, under task, add task button in blue
  13. Click Add Task.
  14. Choose XM Directory.
    New window, XM Directory task selected
  15. Select Add to XM Directory.
    Two options, first is add to xm directory
  16. From the contact list dropdown, select the library with your name or your collaborating group’s name on it.
    Contact list dropdown shows list of libraries, then a new contact list option at the top
  17. Select New Contact List at the top.
  18. Name the contact list something you will remember later. Click Save.
    Window for naming contact list. Save button blue, bottom-right of window
  19. Next to External Data Reference, click the Piped Text button ( {a} ) and select Embedded Data.
    Dropdown from button described which includes embedded data field as the second option
  20. Type in Login ID and click Save.
    Window for naming field, save button blue bottom-right of this new and tinier window
  21. Click Add or remove Embedded Data fields.
    Text in blue below other panel fields
  22. Click Add contact Embedded Data field.
    Blue button in a new window
  23. Name one of the fields you are looking to move from survey one to survey two. In this example, we want to save the respondent’s Office.
    Huge menu expanding form piped text menu
  24. Under the Field Value, click the Piped Text button ( {a}).
  25. Choose Survey Question.
  26. Select the question where the respondent provides this information. In our example, Q3 is, “Which office do you work in?”
  27. For a Multiple Choice question, click Selected Choices.
  28. Click Add contact Embedded Data field to add your next field.
  29. Repeat Steps 23-27 for each field you want to move from one survey to another.
  30. When you’re done adding these fields, click Close.
  31. If your survey is not anonymized, you can use the {a} button to specify where in the survey or contact list you will retrieve the respondent’s First Name, Last Name, and Email.
    Save button, bottom right of window

    Qtip: For more help on using Contact List Triggers, see the linked support page.
  32. Click Save when you’re finished.

Displaying the Login ID to User

Although the setup described on this support page doesn’t require that you show the respondent what their Login ID is, you may still want them to know this information, just in case. Using Piped Text for the “Login ID” Embedded Data field, you can show the Login ID to the respondent in several parts of the survey, including:

  • An Email Task that triggers to the respondent after they complete the survey.
    Qtip: You must already know or ask a respondent to provide their email address to use this option.
  • An end of survey message.
  • A question.

For more on displaying this information to respondents, see Assigning Randomized IDs to Respondents.

Second Survey Setup

Qtip: The information from the first survey can only be brought into the second survey as open text data. This means the second survey will have one Text Entry question for each field being brought over.
  1. Create your second survey.
    Text entry questions in the second survey
  2. Create a Text Entry question for each data point you want to bring over.
  3. Go to your Survey Flow.
  4. Click Add a New Element Here and select Authenticator.
    Add a new element here link clicked revealing yellow selection box with blue authenticator option
  5. Click Move on each element to drag it under the authenticator. If you have multiple blocks or branches in your survey, make sure they are in order.
  6. On the authenticator, select the library where you saved the contact list in the first survey.
  7. Select the same contact list you created for the contact list trigger. In this example, it is “Authenticate Part 2.”
  8. Choose to authenticate by External Data Reference.
    Green embedded data element on top
  9. Select Pre-fill.
    Qtip: If a respondent uses the correct link to access a survey, this option assures they are automatically logged into the survey without having to remember or type their Login ID in.
  10. Type “Login ID.”
  11. Add an Embedded Data element named Login ID to the top of the Survey Flow.
  12. Add an Embedded Data element under the Authenticator. Make sure it is above the other elements under the authenticator.
    Green embedded data underneath the authenticator, on top of other blocks
  13. To this element, add each of the fields you are trying to move over. For example, in Step 7 we said we wanted to carry over everyone’s “Office,” so we have an “Office” field in the screenshot.
  14. Click Save Flow.
  15. Click the gear to the left of your first Text Entry question.
  16. Select Add Default Choices.
  17. Click the dropdown arrow.
  18. Select Embedded Data.
  19. Click the dropdown to see a list of Embedded Data you added to your Survey Flow. Click the field corresponding to this question. In this example, we’re using “Office” again.
  20. Click Save.
  21. Repeat Steps 3-8 as needed.
Qtip: In order to use Multiple Choice questions instead of Text Entry questions, you will need to use JavaScript. Qualtrics Support cannot advise on custom coding, however, you can always try asking our community of dedicated users instead.

Distributing the Second Survey

In order to connect the data from your first survey to your second survey, you need to do two things: build the right link using query strings, and distribute the second survey directly from the first.

Building the Survey Link

  1. Go to your second survey.
    Green button bottom-right, not bottom-most
  2. Go to the Distributions tab.
  3. Select Get a single reusable link.
    Link in center of page
  4. Copy the link from the Anonymous Link section.
  5. Paste the link into a Word document, Google Doc, Notepad, or other app where you can make some quick edits. It should look like this:
  6. At the end of the link, add a question mark ( ? ).
  7. Add the following (bolded):

Connecting the Surveys

Using the link you created above, you have several options for distributing your second survey.

  • Email Task: Distribute the second half of a study to the participant based on hours / days since they finished the first half. Remember, although you’re linking to the second survey, you must add the Email Task to the first survey!
  • XM Directory Task: Distribute the second half of a study to the participant based on days / months since they finished the first half. Remember, although you’re linking to the second survey, you must add the XM Directory Task to the first survey!

    Qtip: XM Directory Tasks won’t let you save them if you don’t have special Piped Text in them. For your link to the second survey, you will need to copy your query string and put it on the end of the “Survey URL” Piped Text to link to the survey, like this:


    You can also copy this exact Piped Text and use it as a hyperlink in your XM Directory Task.
    A hyperlink window with the protocol set to other and the piped text we gave you above pasted in the URL field

  • Redirect to URL at End of Survey: When your respondents finish the first survey, they will be immediately redirected to the second survey. Remember, although you’re linking to the second survey, you must add the redirect to the end of the first survey!
    Qtip: This feature is not available for free accounts.
  • Posting Your Link: Did you display the Login ID to the participant? Do you expect them to remember this ID? After the first part of the study is complete, you can paste the second survey’s link to a website, send it to an email group, or post it wherever you know the participants will see it. Respondents can then use their Login ID to “log into” the second survey.