Survey Platform - Partial Completion | Qualtrics

Partial Completion


After a participant starts a survey, they have a certain amount of time allotted for them to complete the survey, regardless of the survey’s activation status or expiration dates. How much time the participant has is determined by the Partial Completion setting, found in the Survey Options.

In this page, you will learn all about partial responses—how Qualtrics stores survey progress, how participants can return to finish a survey, and how partial responses are reported in the dataset.

Understanding Partial Responses

As a respondent progresses through a survey, the answers they input are securely sent to Qualtrics servers and stored as Responses in Progress. This saving happens automatically—no need for respondents to click any sort of “Save” button.

Once a participant completes the survey, their response is moved from Responses in Progress over to Completed Responses, where it will show up in reports and in downloaded survey data.

If a participant closes their web browser without finishing the survey, the response will stay in Responses in Progress for a set amount of time, just in case the participant comes back to finish. Each time they come back to the survey, the allotted time resets. If the participant doesn’t come back within the allotted time frame, the response will automatically be closed as-is and moved over to Completed Responses.

The Partial Completion setting in your Survey Options allows you to choose how long partial responses will remain in Responses in Progress before being closed and moved over to Completed Responses.

Setting the Partial Completion Time Frame

  1. Open Survey Options in the Survey module.image01
  2. Select a time frame from the Partial Completion dropdown.image03
    Qtip: Don’t want to save partial responses? Choose Delete partial responses after one week.

Saving Survey Progress

Each time a respondent switches pages in the survey, the answers they’ve provided so far are sent securely to Qualtrics servers, and saved as part of their partial response.

For participants who don’t finish the survey in one sitting, the Save and Continue feature can be used to retrieve their partial response so they can start right where they left off the next time they click the survey link.

Qtip: Save and Continue applies specifically to anonymous responses. For those who received a survey invitation from the Qualtrics Mailer, Save and Continue is not needed. The survey link each participant received identifies who they are, so they can return to the survey from any computer.

Save and Continue works by placing a cookie on the respondent’s browser. The next time the respondent clicks the survey link, Qualtrics sees this cookie and knows to load their previous survey progress.

Save and Continue works as long as the respondent returns to the survey on the same computer and on the same web browser, and has not cleared their browser cookies.

Save and Continue is turned on by default, but can be turned on or off.

To turn on/off Save and Continue

  1. Open Survey Options in the Survey module.image01
  2. Select the Save and Continue checkbox.image02

Partial Completion vs Survey Expiration

The Survey Expiration date determines how long participants have to use survey links (Anonymous link, Email Campaign links, Personal links) to start new responses. Once the expiration date passes, all survey links will expire and no participant can start a new survey response.

However, participants who have already started their surveys will be able to complete their responses for a limited period of time. How long they have is determined by the Partial Completion setting.

Example: Let’s say Survey Expiration is set to 60 days and Partial Completion is set to 2 weeks. You receive your survey link and wait 55 days before clicking on it. As soon as you move past the first page (i.e., click the first “next” button), the Partial Completion setting takes over. You now have 2 weeks to finish taking the survey (even though the survey expires in 5 days). Through this means, participants can submit survey responses after a survey has expired or been deactivated.

Rather than rely on the Partial Completion setting, you can choose to close all responses in progress when you deactivate the survey. This will close all surveys regardless of Partial Completion status and stop anyone from submitting after that point.

Qtip: You can close individual Responses in Progress in the Responses module.