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Drill Down Question

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About Drill Down Questions

The drill down question is used to help respondents choose from a long list of options. Respondents first pick from a general drop-down list and from their answers are presented with specific follow-up lists to “drill down” to their answer.

A question that asks which car you'd be most interested in purchasing, with separate dropdowns for Year, Make, and Model

Example: To make the selection of a particular car make and model, have the user first select the year and then the make. From there, the applicable models will be displayed.

Setting Up a Drill Down Question

Qtip: Want to download an example file? Here’s a link to the file used for this page: Car Make and Model Example.
  1. Open a new spreadsheet in Excel or another similar program.
  2. Include a column for each dropdown menu you would like included in your drill down question. Do not include headers – they will be included as answers in the dropdowns.
    CSV where the columns do not have headers. The first is for years, the second for makes, ad the third for models
  3. Include a row for each possible combination of choices for the drop-down menus. This might result in repeated values. For example, because there were 9 models available in 1997, there are 9 rows that start with 1997.
    A row of the CSV is highlighted

    Attention: The CSV/TSV file for each drill down question can have a maximum of 10,000 cells. The maximum number of drill down cells per survey is 30,000. Your survey will warn you when you’ve exceeded this, including any drill downs you may have sitting in your trash. You will not be able to import survey files with more than 30,000 drill down cells.
  4. Save this file as a CSV (Comma Separated Values) or a TSV (Tab Separated Values) file.
  5. In Qualtrics, return to the survey where you want to add a drill down.
  6. Click Add a new question.
    Blue add new question button bottom of block, drill down type highlgihted from menu that expands from it
  7. Select Drill down.
  8. Change the choice text to the categories for each dropdown menu.
    A drill down has choices for year, model, and make. Above is a link that says Click here to add answers.

    Qtip: Make sure you have the correct number of choices (categories – eg., Year, Make, Model). If you upload more or less columns in your file than there are choices, you’ll need to adjust this number.
    In the question editing pane, Choices are set to 3
  9. Click the blue Click here to add answers text on your drill down question, or Import choices on the editing pane on the left.
  10. Click Browse and select the file you’ve just saved.  Add Answers to Drill Down window
  11. If the data preview appears correct, select Import.
    Qtip: Got strange formatting in the preview? Try clicking Show Options on the bottom-left of the preview and selecting a different delimiter or enclosure, such as a semicolon. If you are using a TSV file, then set your delimiter to Tab.
    The Delimiter is set to Tab and the Enclosure is set to quotations
  12. Preview your question to check your dropdown menus.  You can also click on the Preview button to view the drill down within the entire survey.
    Preview Survey and Preview Question buttons

    Warning: 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. Two 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 or advanced question randomization to hide the previous question.
Qtip: Editing drill downs can hurt or invalidate data. However, in cases where you want to make superficial edits to drill down choices (such as for reporting purposes), you will need to save the answer choices as embedded data in the Survey Flow, before you send out your survey. You would create an embedded data element for each drill down category (eg., Year, Make, Model) with their values set to the piped text of each of those categories. You are then able to export the data or report on these embedded data fields rather than the actual question, meaning even if you make changes to your drill down answer choices, the embedded data field will not be invalidated.
Saving Drill Down answer choices as embedded data in survey flow

Editing Drill Downs

Before you collect any responses, it is okay to reupload your drill down file with edits. This includes adding rows and columns, removing rows and columns, and changing the wording of choices.

However, after you collect data, you should never change a drill down’s file. This includes data collected by previewing the survey or generating test responses.

If you find after collecting data that you need to change choices in your drill down, you will need to hide your old drill down and create a new one. The easiest way to hide a question is by doing the following:

  1. Click the block.
    Block outlined in blue; option to randomize on the editing pane to the left
  2. Select Question randomization.
  3. Select Advanced Randomization.
    Question Randomization widow with Advanced Randomization indicated
  4. Click the drill down question so it is highlighted.
    An item in the Fixed Display Order is selected. The arrow that would put it into Undisplayed Items on the right is indicated
  5. Click the arrow to put it into Undisplayed Items.
  6. Click Save.
    Save on the lower-right
  7. Click Save.
    Save in lower-right of Question Randomization window
Qtip: You are responsible for combining the data of the two drill down questions if they need to be analyzed together. Qualtrics’ response editing feature can help, allowing you to manually change the answers to questions. You can edit multiple responses at a time.

Drill Downs in Other Parts of the Platform

Drill downs can be used with other features of the platform, including piped text, display logic, and carry forward.

Attention: If your drill down file contains more than 2,000 answers, you will not be able to use the drill down question in piped text, display logic, or carry forward. Answers are defined as the number of permutations that are possible based on the file uploaded. To see this with an example, download the sample file in the Setting Up a Drill Down Question section. This file has 41 answers. The first answer is “1997,” the second is “1997 – Ford,” the third is “1997 – Ford – Taurus,” and so on. You can also see the number of answers by opening the QSF of your survey in a text editor and searching for your drill down question. See the below image of the example drill down question in a QSF. The first three answers for the drill down question are outlined in red and the entire list of answers is highlighted in blue.
image of a QSF file in a text editor. The drill down answers are highlighted in blue and the first three are outlined in red. The first three answer choices are: "1997," "1997 - Toyota", and "1997 - Toyota - Taurus". To access the full list of answers, download the example QSF in the linked section.

Piped Text

Piped text allows you to insert respondents’ information, such as answers to previous questions, other places in the survey.

With most questions, the piped text called “Selected Choices” allows you to display what the respondent previously answered in the survey. However, drill downs are a little different. Selected choices only tell you which categories you answered, not what those answers were.

A question with piped text in the editor and in an active survey

However, if you select the name of a category from the Piped Text menu, you can then pipe in that category’s answer. To use the example on this page, if you wanted to display the Year someone selected, you would select Year from the Piped Text menu.

Piped Text on the question editor expands to show the options for drill down choices

Below, you can see how the piped text becomes the selected year, make, and model.

Piped Text in the survey editor compared to the same content in an active survey

For further questions, visit the Piped Text page.

Display Logic

Display logic allows you to hide or reveal questions based on previous information gathered in the survey.

Display logic based on drill downs allows you to hide or reveal questions based on the topmost category (for example, Year) or by a specific combinations (such as specific Makes or Models).

For example, the display logic below will display the question if any Ford model from 1997, 1998, or 1999 is selected.

Display logic saying if a 1997 Ford, 1998 Ford, or 1999 Ford are selected, the question will be displayed

But you could also create display logic based on a specific car (for example, if 1998 ~ Ford ~ Taurus is Selected) or a whole year (if 1997 is Selected).

Warning: In-page display logic cannot be based on a drill down question.

For further questions, see the Display Logic support page.

Carry Forward

Carry forward allows you to make answers from a previous question possible answers to another question. For example, you can ask people what products they use, and then from those selected products have them choose a favorite.

Much like with piped text, carrying forward “Selected Choices” can result in the categories (eg., Year, Make, Model) and not the answers themselves (eg., 1997 Ford Taurus) being carried forward. To insert the exact Year, Make, or Model instead, you would carry forward the Selected Answers of that category.

Carry forward set to carry forward selected make, only.

Qtip: You cannot carry forward multiple categories at a time For example, you can carry forward selected Year, but not selected Make and Year.

For more on Carry Forward, visit the linked support page.

Data Analysis

Once your responses have been collected, Qualtrics offers various ways you can analyze your response data. From the Reports tab, you can view aggregate data in pre-made reports as well as create your own reports from scratch. From the Data & Analysis tab, you can view and manage individual respondents’ data.

Compatible Visualizations

Visualizations are the graphs and tables you use in the Reports tab. When drill down data is displayed in visualizations, there is a separate table for each category. Using the example repeated on this page, that would mean Year, Make, and Model data is presented in 3 separate tables.

In the Results section of the Reports tab, there are seven visualizations available for drill down questions: simple table, bar chart, line chart, pie chart, breakdown bar, statistics table, and gauge chart. For more information on these visualizations please visit the linked visualization support pages.

In a results visualization breakout, each category/choice (year, make, model) can be loaded into a visualization one at a time

In the Reports section of the Reports tab, there are eight similar visualizations for drill down questions: data table, results table, bar chart, line chart, pie chart, breakdown bar, statistics table, and gauge chart.

The same in advanced reports

Downloaded Data Format

On the Data and Analysis tab, you can export a spreadsheet containing each respondent’s answers. With this kind of data, there are two export options to familiarize yourself with: choice text and numeric values.

  • Choice Text: If you are looking for a more readable data output, we strongly encourage selecting choice text when downloading drill down data. With this option selected, the text of the choices respondents selected are displayed in the downloaded file rather than the numeric coded value of each choice.
    CSV of drill down data
  • Use Numeric Values: With numeric values selected, your data set will include a column for each drop-down menu in the drill down question, and the numeric value of each choice.
    CSV of drill down data

Drill Down Numeric Values

Each possible combination of answers that can be selected within a drill down question is given its own coded value, according to the numbering scheme below.

Every row of the CSV contains a different car

The recode values of drill downs can’t be edited and viewed like with standard question types, and they can’t be exported in a Word document like most question types. That means the best way to find each coded value is to download the file that would be sent to translators if you were running a multi-language survey. This file can be retrieved in the survey editor by following these directions:

  1. Click Survey options.
    Translations option inside the survey options menu
  2. Click Translations.
  3. Clicking the download file icon.
    Translation page
  4. Change the format to Unicode CSV or Unicode TSV.
    download translation window

    Qtip: This step isn’t required, but it makes the file easier to read.
  5. Click Download.
  6. In the file your downloaded, look at the Answer row and the corresponding number to find the recode value of the combination. CSV of drill down translation

Example: One respondent chose 1999 for Year, Ford for Model, and Taurus for Model.

If we look at the translation key, we see that 1999 is Answer28, 1999 ~ Ford is Answer29, and 1999 ~ Ford ~ Taurus is Answer30.

1999 is Answer28, 1999 Ford is Answer29, and 1999 Ford Taurus is Answer30

When we export our data with numeric values and look at our respondent who chose the 1999 Ford Taurus, we see that their Year column says 28, Their Make column says 29, and their Model column says 30.

CSV of drill down data

And here is the choice text version of the same file (where we can tell by the row number and ResponseID that this is the same person):

csv of same drill down data, but in choice text format