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Creating an in-platform survey

You can build survey using our in-house developed survey tool

Stijn Zwarts avatar
Written by Stijn Zwarts
Updated over a week ago

To enable you with more ways to collect and manage inputs for quality participation, we have developed our own in-platform survey tool. This tool can help you seamlessly build surveys, collect data, analyse and download results - all on the secure CitizenLab platform.

Without needing to leave the platform, you can create questionnaires with short, long, or numerical answers, multiple choice, single choice, or linear scales, even adding logic. You can also view real-time results on the platform or easily export data through spreadsheets for further analysis.

Building an in-platform survey

To create an in-platform survey, you can start by creating a project.

Under the “What do you want to do?” section - you can choose the engagement methods you would like to use for the project, and here you will choose; "Create a survey"

After creating the project and the phases with its details, you will be given an option called Survey on the phases that you selected "create an in-platform survey.

To create survey questions, please click on "Edit". Then you will be presented with a survey editor where you can find pages and all the questions available in the survey on the left-hand side.

When you add or edit a page or a question, you will be presented with details to edit on the right-hand side.


Pages can be used to break up a long list of questions and better organize your survey. You can give the page a title and a description like you are used to in your projects. You can add images, embed videos and add links to other webpages.

If you add questions to a page, the questions will be visible right below the description of the page. If you don’t add questions to a page, the page will act as an informational divider.

Question types

On every question type, you have options to make the question mandatory (required) or not to answer, add the title of the question, description or explanation of the question.

Short answer

Pick this option if you want to collect a short answer to a question. Depending on your plan (with access to our AI package) you will be able to summarise and categorise text responses with AI.

Long answer

Pick this option if you want to collect a long answer to a question. Depending on your plan (with access to our AI package) you will be able to summarise and categorise text responses with AI.

The difference with 'Short answer' is that the field box that is shown will be bigger so it is easier and more inviting for users to leave a longer answer.

Single choice

When you select this option you can add answer options to your question. Users can only pick one answer.

Multiple choice

When you select this question type you can add answer options to your question. Users can then pick multiple answers.

Image choice

If you want people to choose between different images you can use the question type 'Image choice'. You can add images to your question and give the image a short description. If 'Limit number of answers' is enabled, respondents need to select the specified number of answers to proceed.

Linear Scale

For Linear Scale questions, you can add Range and labels of the minimum and maximum values.


Pick this option if you want to collect a number and want to prevent people of filling text.

File upload

With the question type 'File upload' you can ask your respondents to upload a file to their survey response. The files will show as links in the preview of the results and also in the export of the results the files will be shown as a URL and from there it can be downloaded. It is not possible to download the files in bulk.

Location answer

To collect pins on a map you can add the question type 'Location answer' by clicking on the '+' next to 'Location answer' in the left column. In this question, the default map will be shown and respondents can pin on the map or fill in an address.

To edit the map, click on 'Configure map' to change the default center and zoom. In the pop-up that appears you can also add GeoJSON files.

The results will be shown on the map in the back-office of the project under the tab 'Survey'. There is a toggle to switch from the actual pins to a heat map, so you can see in a quick overview where the most pins have been placed.

If you have access to the Esri add-on you can configure the layer and show richer information on the map by importing Esri feature layers or Esri Web maps. Read more about Esri here.

Access to this feature depends on your plan.


You can preview the questionnaire from the top right “View Survey” button. After creating questions, you can Save the survey.

You will be presented with options to toggle off the response collections, view the results, edit the survey, view the survey or delete the results. Deleting the results is not undoable.

Tip: If you are in the process of creating your survey and are submitting test survey responses to make sure everything looks right on the resident side, be sure to delete these submissions before you open the survey up to the wider public. You can do that by clicking on the ‘Delete survey results’ button.

You can also view aggregate quantitative questions results within your survey from the platform. You will be presented with answers on single/multiple choices and linear questions in graph format, showing the percentage and amount of people who have picked the choice.

Responses on the survey can be downloaded via the ‘download survey results’ button. You can find this button in the dropdown when you click on the 3 dots.

This export will also include URL's to images and attachment that respondents submitted in their survey so you can download each attachment individually from the export. It is not possible to download these attachments in bulk.

It is not possible to delete individual responses in the back-end of the project. If you want to delete certain responses, the best way to do this is to export all the results and delete the responses from the export.

Privacy Consent Note: You can certainly use our in-platform survey tool to collect information also amongst unregistered users, but any legal advice regarding GDPR would need to be consulted with through a professional source who can best understand what personal data you will be collecting and what you’ll be using the data for.

It is generally recommended as best practice to have a separate required question at the end of the survey that allows survey respondents to see the privacy policy page and agree/disagree with it. You can do this by creating a mandatory single-choice question.

Collecting responses

When the survey is open for responses partial filled in surveys will be automatically saved. This means that when a user doesn't complete the survey in one take, it will be automatically saved and the survey can be finished later.

Users who didn't finish a survey will get an email with a reminder 1 day after the platform last saved the survey in draft. This reminder can be switched off under 'Messaging' -> 'Automated emails'.

Using Logic in your surveys

Logic lets survey creators control the flow of surveys and display only relevant pages to the respondents.

Our in-platform survey tool supports logic at two levels:

Logic at question level

At the question level: this will let survey creators decide what page to take respondents next based on their answers to a single select question or linear scale question. [Please, note that we only support this kind of logic for single select questions]

  • Let’s say you are setting a survey that will get sent out to Brooklyn residents. You want to split residents according to their zip codes, so you can then ask them a set of questions specific to the neighborhood they live in.

    We’d probably start with a question like: “What is your zip code?” We would set it as a required single select question.

We would then click Logic in the side panel on the right, and add logic to send respondents to a different page based on their answer. Let’s assume you have already created the three different pages you want to send residents to depending on their zip code. Each contains a list of questions specific to the three neighborhoods you are surveying: Park Slope, Crown Heights, and Boreum Hill. We would then simply set up Logic that says ‘If Answer is e.g. 11217’, then ‘Next page is e.g. Page 3 - Park Slope’

If you had set a zip code option that read e.g. “None of these” to make sure respondents that did not live in the zip codes you wanted to survey did not take the survey, you could then set logic to send those respondents to the survey end.

Logic at page level

  • At the page level: this will let creators determine what page to send respondents to irrespective of their answers to the questions within the page.

    Following our example above, it is likely you would not want Park Slope residents to see the following pages that contains the questions addressed to Crown Heights or Boerum Hill residents. In that case then click Logic in the side panel on the right and set the page flow, so the Next page it goes to is e.g. the final survey page, instead of the Crown Heights page.

A few additional things to know about logic for in-platform surveys:

  • We don’t allow logic to direct respondents to a prior question.

  • We don't have logic for multichoice questions

  • All questions within a page will be visible to every respondent that lands on that page.

  • We do not support setting logic between questions within a page. If that is the desired behavior, one workaround is to create multiple single-question pages, and set logic between them.

  • Single select or linear scale questions with logic are required by default.

  • We highly recommend you test the survey before launching it to make sure it is behaving as you intended.

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