Should I Conduct My Own Survey?

Wake Forest has a “large survey” request process designed to help faculty and staff who want to learn more about our community through surveying. Large surveys are those that go beyond your department/class/program/area and typically have the word “all” in them, e.g. all freshman, all students, all faculty, all staff. The following pages serve as a guide through the request process and also provide numerous resources and advice to help you in your research. Typically, the process takes at least one month, so plan ahead.

Before going into the field with a survey, make clear what it is you want to learn.  What are your research questions?  About which population(s) do you want to learn more about and why?  

Typically, 15-20 large surveys are administered at Wake each academic year.  That’s a lot.  Our community gets fatigued and becomes less likely to respond. To save time and money, not to mention lessen survey fatigue, it may be that the answers to your questions already exist in previous survey results or other resources listed below.

Previous Large Surveys

This shared directory allows you to see what large surveys were previously administered at Wake.  You can filter by population and survey date, read a brief survey description, see the survey instrument itself, and contact the researcher who administered the survey to learn more.

WFU Fact Book

The Fact Book is an online, interactive publication reporting comprehensive information about Wake Forest. In addition to the general information about the university, its history and its purpose, the Fact Book also provides frequently requested longitudinal data regarding our students, faculty, staff, finances, and facilities.


The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is a collection of interrelated data surveys conducted annually by the U.S. Department of Education. IPEDS gathers information from 6,400 colleges, universities, and technical and vocational institutions that participate in the federal student aid programs.  The data collected include information about institutions’ students, faculty, staff, revenues, and expenditures.  Because nearly all U.S. universities participate in IPEDS, the data are longitudinal, and the definitions are consistent across schools, this is a very valuable resource if you are interested in comparing Wake to peer institutions.

Common Data Set

Similar to IPEDS, Wake also produces annually the Common Data Set (CDS), a collaborative effort among the higher education community to provide summary data to the public about the institutions’ students, faculty, finances, and financial aid. Many of the data in the Common Data Set are also found on the IPEDS website – one notable exception is that the CDS reports the number of undergraduate class sections by class size (e.g. 2-9 students, 10-19 students, etc.).  As with IPEDS, since participating schools are using the same definitions, comparisons across institutions may be made.  Unlike IPEDS, there is no central CDS repository. You have to search for each institution’s CDS separately.

Do you still want to conduct a survey?

If, after reviewing the above resources, you still want to conduct your own survey (or want to learn more about surveying in general or the large survey request process in particular), click here.