The 2013–2014 HEDS Research Practices Survey
The HEDS Research Practices Survey is a short survey that collects information on students’ research experiences and assesses information literacy skills.
Since 2008, the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS) has administered this survey to more than 30,000 undergraduates at over 60 colleges and universities. We updated the survey this year to improve its assessment of information literacy skills. Even though the HEDS Research Practices Survey only takes about 15 minutes to complete, it now includes questions that map to each of the Association of College and Research Libraries’ five information literacy competency standards. All institutions, regardless of whether they belong to HEDS, are welcome to participate. Download a sample.
Depending on how institutions administer the HEDS Research Practices Survey, they can use the results to assess the following:
- Their entering first-year students’ information literacy skills and precollege research experiences.
- Their first-year students’ information literacy skills and research experiences after one year of college.
- Their senior students’ information literacy skills and research experiences after four years of college.
- How students’ information literacy skills change over the first college term, the first year of college, and over four years of college.
- Their students’ information literacy skills and research experiences compared with those of students at other institutions.
Faculty and librarians can use information from this survey to develop pedagogies and materials to advance students’ information literacy skills.
Survey Administration Periods
Institutions may select either a single administration or a longitudinal administration of the HEDS Research Practices Survey. The following two sections outline the 2013–2014 schedule for the single and longitudinal administrations of the survey.
|Single administration periods||Students surveyed||Purpose||Administration duration||Earliest possible start date||Must be completed by|
|Beginning of first term||Entering first-year students||Measure entering first-year students’ research experiences and information literacy skills||3–6 weeks||August 5, 2013||End of the third week of the first term|
|End of spring term||First-year students or seniors||Measure students’ research experiences and information literacy skills after their first year or four years of college||3–6 weeks||Six weeks prior to the last day of spring classes||Two weeks after the last day of spring classes|
Institutions can opt to conduct a single administration of the HEDS Research Practices Survey outside of these standard administration periods. For example, institutions may choose to administer the survey to sophomores in their spring term or to seniors in their fall term. However, because of a lack of comparable data for these nonstandard administration periods, we will only develop reports and the more extensive versions of our data files for institutions that follow the standard single administration periods described above. Institutions that opt to administer the survey outside of our standard administration periods:
- Must administer the survey for the standard 3–6 week period.
- Will receive a data file with their students’ responses from which they can generate reports.
- Will not receive comparison data, frequency reports, and/or longitudinal reports.
Longitudinal Administration (additional $250 fee)
Institutions can administer the HEDS Research Practices Survey longitudinally and track how individual students change by resurveying them and connecting their responses over time. Institutions may choose from three longitudinal administration periods, shown below.
|Longitudinal administration periods||1st administration||2nd administration||Purpose||Administration duration and window for start/end dates|
|First-term longitudinal||Beginning of first term, survey entering first-year students||End of first term, survey same first-year students||Measure growth in information literacy skills in the first term of college. This longitudinal sequence is especially helpful for institutions that have a first-term course for entering students with a research or information literacy component.||1st administration
|First-year longitudinal||Beginning of first term, survey entering first-year students||End of spring term, survey same first-year students at the end of their first year||Measure growth in information literacy skills over the first year of college||1st administration
|Four-year longitudinal||Beginning of first term, survey entering first-year students||End of spring term, survey same students at the end of their fourth year of college||Measure growth in information literacy skills over four years of college||1st administration
Please note that for the second administration in the longitudinal study you are not limited to surveying students who responded in the first administration. However, the longitudinal reports will focus on students who responded in both the first and second administration. Institutions that participate longitudinally must register and pay separately for each administration of the survey in the longitudinal sequence, as well as pay the $250 fee for the longitudinal report and data set.
In order for the administration process to run smoothly, we require that you designate a survey liaison as the single contact for the survey. HEDS staff will direct all communication to the survey liaison, and the survey liaison is responsible for contacting other people on her or his campus about the survey as necessary. The survey liaison will have other responsibilities that differ by administration method. Details of these responsibilities will be provided after registration.
The HEDS Research Practices Survey can be administered by two different methods, described below. Although institutions typically select one of the survey administration methods, institutions can, for an additional fee, use both methods.
Students receive an individualized email invitation with a unique link to the survey. If they do not complete the survey, they will also receive reminders via email. Email is the most common administration method. The emails and reminders are sent through Qualtrics (our survey platform) by the HEDS staff.
Students are given a general survey link and a unique password to log into the survey. Institutions often use this method when they wish to administer the survey in a classroom or computer lab setting. With the authentication method, the survey liaison distributes the survey links and passwords to students.
If you have any questions about which administration method would be best for your campus or about the role of the survey liaison, please contact Hannah Spirrison (email: or phone: 765-361-6343).
Reports and Data Files
We will send the following data files and reports to institutions that participate in a standard single administration of the HEDS Research Practices Survey:
|HEDS institutions||Institutions not in HEDS|
|SPSS and/or MS Excel file with their participants’ responses (HEDS staff will add values/labels to SPSS files)||✓||✓|
|Institutional frequency report comparing their students’ responses to those of students at all other participating institutions (separated by student classification, if applicable)||✓||✓|
|SPSS and/or Excel file with student-level data from participating HEDS institutions. Institutional identifiers will be included in the file, but student identifiers will be removed.||✓|
|Excel tool that allows you to create customized comparison groups among participating HEDS institutions||✓|
HEDS institutions that do not wish to be in the student-level data file will only receive the first two items: (1) SPSS and/or MS Excel file with their participants' responses and (2) an institutional frequency report comparing their participants' responses to those at all other participating institutions. In addition to the above reports, all institutions that participate in one of the three longitudinal sequences will also receive a matched data set and a change report for their students after their second HEDS Research Practices Survey administration.
HEDS administers its surveys via the survey engine Qualtrics. Survey liaisons will be able to use Qualtrics to monitor how many people have responded to the survey and when they responded, and they can view and download reports of participants’ responses during and after the administration period. They will have access to their data and reports on the HEDS Qualtrics site until August 15, 2015.
Other HEDS Research Practices Survey Information
- Using previous version of HEDS Research Practices Survey to complete longitudinal assessments – Institutions that began a longitudinal study using the previous version of the HEDS Research Practices Survey can administer the 2012–2013 survey on their own, free of charge, in order to complete their longitudinal assessment. However, if they do so, they will not receive any reports or data files from HEDS. If you are interested in using the previous instrument in this fashion, please contact Hannah Spirrison (email: or phone: 765-361-6343). This policy will remain in effect until the end of the spring 2016 administration.
- Supplemental questions – Institutions can add up to 20 supplemental questions, the first 10 of which are free, at the end of the HEDS Research Practices Survey. (See "Fees" below for more information). Each of the following count as one supplemental question:
- Each response on a multipart or matrix question
- "Check all that apply" question
- Multiple-choice question
- Open-response question
- Embedding institution names in the survey – We will configure the survey so that the institution’s name appears prominently on each page of the survey.
- IRB approval – The HEDS Research Practices Survey has been approved by the Wabash College Institutional Review Board (IRB) as a voluntary survey. You can find the approval letter from the Wabash IRB here. We encourage the HEDS Research Practices Survey liaison to contact the IRB at her or his institution to determine whether their approval is needed prior to administering the survey.
The table below provides the fees for the 2013–2014 administrations of the HEDS Research Practices Survey. There are two payment options on the registration form. You can choose to receive an invoice and pay with a check, or you can pay at the time of registration with your credit card. We send out invoices at the end of the month.
|HEDS institutions||Institutions not in HEDS|
|Base cost – single administration
|Base cost – longitudinal administration
($500 for 1st administration +
$500 for 2nd administration +
$250 fee for longitudinal report and data set)
($1,500 for 1st administration+
$1,500 for 2nd administration +
$250 fee for longitudinal report and data set)
|Using both administration methods (email and authentication)||+ $200||+ $200|
|11 to 20 supplemental questions (1 to 10 supplemental questions are included in base cost)||+ $200||+ $200|
|Additional recipients (after 5,000)||+ $500 per 1,000 additional recipients||+ $500 per 1,000 additional recipients|
|Late registration fee (see explanation in registration section below)||+ $200||+ $200|
Registering for the HEDS Research Practices Survey
Institutions can register for the HEDS Research Practices Survey via the online registration form. If you wish to register for more than one administration of the survey in 2013–2014, please fill out the registration form separately for each administration. The deadlines for registration are tied with your institution’s academic calendar. Please see the first two tables above to determine the appropriate starting and ending dates for the survey at your institution. Institutions must register at least three weeks prior to the date on which they plan to begin administering the survey. Institutions that do not register three weeks prior to their starting date are considered late, and we will make decisions about accepting late registrations on a case-by-case basis. If we accept the late registration, we will charge an additional $200 late fee.
HEDS Research Practices Survey Administration Contact
Please contact Hannah Spirrison (email: or phone: 765-361-6343) if you have any questions about administering the HEDS Research Practices Survey.