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Responses Section of Survey Options

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About the Responses Section of Survey Options

These survey options affect how responses are recorded and how respondents experience the survey-taking process. Here, you’ll find settings related to how respondents can change their answers during a survey session, the error messages they should receive, what to do with incomplete responses, and more.

Responses section of survey options

Back button

With a back button, respondents can return to pages they have already visited in your survey and update their responses.

Back button toggle

Warning: In some cases, a back button will not show on a page of the survey even if you have the setting enabled in your survey options. This is caused by having elements between blocks in your survey flow. Any element (branch logic, embedded data, randomizer, web service, etc.) will disable the back button on the first page of the block that follows it.

Allow Respondents to Finish Later

Qtip: This setting used to be called Save and Continue and was in the Survey Experience section of the old survey options.

This setting allows respondents to leave the survey and resume their progress later, so long as they return on the same browser where they started the survey.

Allow respondents to finish later toggle

This feature is turned on by default and works by placing a cookie on the respondent’s browser that keeps track of the survey progress. If you are distributing your survey using individual links, progress is tracked automatically, so this survey option is not needed.

By default, respondents have one week to return to the survey and finish their response. After a week, their response will be recorded as-is. This time period can be changed using the Incomplete Survey Responses setting of the survey options.

Qtip: Because “Allow respondents to finish later” uses cookies to save a respondent’s progress, it will only work as long as your respondent returns to the survey on the same internet browser on the same computer to finish the survey.

Custom Error Messages

Qtip: This setting used to be called “custom survey validation message” and was in the Survey Experience section of the old survey options.

When building your survey, you have the option of forcing respondents to answer certain questions. If a respondent does not answer the question, they are shown the error message, “Please answer this question.” In the survey options, you can customize a new standard error message to display in this situation.

Custom error messages toggle makes a dropdown appear where you ca select a library message

Qtip: Custom error messages can also be created and edited in the messages library.

To create a new Validation message

  1. Open Survey Options in the Survey tab.
    Selecting Use Custom error Message, the clicking the Load a Saved Message dropdown to Create a New Message
  2. Go to the Responses section.
  3. Turn Custom error messages on.
  4. Click Load a saved message.
  5. Hover over the library you would like the messages to be saved in and click New Message.
  6. Enter a description that will help you find these messages later.
    New Message window. Error field is set to Require Response. A default error for the Require Response and for the Captcha error
  7. If desired, choose the Destination Folder.
  8. Click the Add Validation button.
  9. Under Error, select which system error category you would like to customize. Require Response is how you change your default Force Response messages.
    Qtip: To add a system error category to the defaults list, select Create New Validation. This would be appropriate if you want to create a new error type to be used in custom validation.
  10. Under Message, type the text you would like to display to the respondent.
  11. Repeat steps 8 and 9 for as many messages as you’d like. In the pictured example, the default captcha error message is being changed, too.
  12. Click Create Message.
    Qtip: Custom error messages can also be created and edited in the message library.

To select an existing Custom Validation message

Selecting Use Custom error Message, then selecting a ready-made message from the dropdown

  1. Open Survey options in the Survey tab.
  2. Go to the Responses section.
  3. Turn Custom error messages on.
  4. Click Load a saved message.
  5. Select the library and the message collection within that library that you would like to use.

Incomplete Survey Responses

Sometimes, respondents will get partway through a survey before they quit. The Incomplete survey responses settings allow you to determine whether to record or delete incomplete responses, and after how long. See the Incomplete Survey Responses support page for more details.

In survey options, in responses, options for incomplete survey responses

Survey Availability

Qtip: This feature used to be called “survey expiration” and was in the Survey Protection section of the old survey options.

With the survey availability setting, you can choose to either make your survey available as long as its status is active, or to set an expiration date when the survey will be closed to new respondents.

Example: If your survey needs to only collect responses that started before the new year, you could set New Years Day as the expiration date so that you can enjoy the holiday festivities without needing to remember to deactivate your survey.

Respondents trying to access your survey before or after the specified range will receive a simple message explaining that the survey is currently unavailable. The expiration date specifically affects participants’ ability to start the survey. Those who are in the middle of a response will be allowed to continue taking their survey and finish after the expiration date.

Qtip: The start and end times are based off of your account time zone, which can be changed in your account settings.
  1. Determine your survey availability.
    Survey availability settings

    • Always open for responses: The default. The survey will be able to collect responses so long as the status is active.
    • Starts and expires at a certain time: Set a specific start and end date for your survey. We’ll cover these settings in the next steps.
  2. If you chose to set an expiration, review the date and time set. To make changes, click Edit survey availability.
  3. Set the start date, start time, end date, and end time of your survey’s availability.
    New window opens where you can enter the time range the survey should be available for
  4. When you’re finished, click Save changes.
  5. Under “Expired survey message,” determine whether you want to use the Default expiration message, or create your own Custom one using your Qualtrics library.
    Choosing a library message from the dropdowns

Inactive survey message

When someone attempts to take a survey that has been deactivated (i.e., when your survey is no longer collecting responses), the following default message is displayed: “Sorry, this survey is not currently active.” You can change this message to a custom one by doing the following:

  1. Select Custom.
    Iactive survey message options all the ay at the bottom of the responses section of survey options
  2. Click Load a saved message.
  3. Select the library you would like the messages to be saved in.
  4. Click New Message.
    Qtip: Alternatively, select an existing message for use.
  5. Enter a Description for your message.
    New window for entering a message
  6. Type your message as you would like it to appear to your respondents.
  7. Click Save.
Qtip: The inactive survey message will display to respondents once the survey has been deactivated. To deactivate an active survey, you must pause response collection. See the linked support page for more details on how to pause responses.