What to do if you need to change the survey structure after activation?

Making Textual Edits to an Active Survey

While a survey is active, it is not possible to add or remove questions or answers, or to change the type of the question. However, it is still possible to make many other changes, including:

  • Modify the text of a question (for example to correct typos or whatever). You cannot add new languages once your survey has been activated.
  • Modify the attributes of a question (for example to include it in the public statistics, insist on a particular number of answers for a multiple options question or whatever).
  • Changing survey logic / conditional rules

Making Structural Edits to an Active Survey

If you are just testing your survey, you can just deactivate your survey if you need to make structural changes to your survey. Deactivating an Active Survey deletes all your response data and your participants. 

So, if you need to change structural elements of your survey, you need to take a few extra steps. 

Note 1If your account does not have the Tutorials menu option in the top horizontal menu bar, please scroll down to the section Legacy Platform for guidance.

Note 2: Changing a question type on a live survey may result in loss of data (example: Changing a short text question to a multiple choice question). If you need to change a question type, best practice would be to set the legacy question to Always hide this question status (found in the Display tab when editing your question). Then  add a new question to replace it (note you'll need to use a new question code).

Note 3: Do not change your question codes -- this will result in loss of data when you import your response data after reactivation.

The following video will show you how to back up your survey, deactivate it, make your changes, and then reactivate and import your response and participant data. 

Legacy Platform

To make more complicated changes, you need to use the import/export facilities described below:

There is a workaround -- before you do the following, note that you'll be deactivating your survey -- so you're deleting all your responses and all your participant data. The procedure will let you recover your response data. If you have participant data, you'll want to export them, along with all token data, etc. 

We strongly recommend you have one of our survey gurus take care of this procedure for you. If you mess things up, all we can do is recover a backup of your data from sometime within a 2 to 4 hour window. There will be a fee to restore a backup of your account. 

Here's the procedure: 

  1. Go to Settings->Publication and set an expiry date on your survey for a time just prior to the current time -- if you have a very active survey, you don't want new responses to be added to the survey at any time after step 2.
  2. Backup your survey by exporting via the Survey Summary page : Display / Export -> Survey archive (.lsa) -- this way if you really mess up, you can delete your survey and re-create it from the backup.
  3. Go to Settings->Responses, and select Export->Export a VV survey file -- place this file somewhere safe as it contains your survey responses in a special markup format.
  4. Go To Settings->Survey participants and click Export any participants you have
  5. Deactivate your survey
  6. Add new questions to your survey, or delete questions/answers from your survey
  7. Activate the survey again
  8. If you had a participant table, you'll be prompted to Initialize the participant table. Do this, and then click Restore options to select your old participant table and Restore it.
  9. Go to Responses->Import->Import responses from a deactivated survey table
  10. Select the most recent Source table from the drop down (that would be today's date of course).
  11. A top right of the page, click Import to restore your response date
  12. Return to Settings->Publication and remove or reset the Expiry date
  13. Test your survey to make sure everything works as you expect
  14. Keep your backup from step 2 above -- just in case.
WARNING: Never change question or answer/response codes when you use the above method to edit your survey structure. The system uses these values to map response data back to each question & answer when you import your file in step 8. If during import the system doesn't find a matching question or response code, that imported data will be skipped and will not be restored to your survey.


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