2015–2016 HEDS Research Practices Survey
The HEDS Research Practices Survey asks students about their research experiences and assesses their information literacy skills. Over 80 colleges and universities have used the HEDS Research Practices Survey since 2008. The HEDS Research Practices Survey includes questions that map to each of the Association of College and Research Libraries’ five information literacy competency standards,* and it only takes about 15 minutes to complete. All institutions, regardless of whether they belong to HEDS, are welcome to participate.
The HEDS Research Practices Survey measures four dimensions of information literacy:
- Knowledge of Research Terms and Strategies (RTS) – Tests students’ knowledge of research concepts. (29 questions, Cronbach’s alpha = 0.75)
- Perceived Level of Difficulty: Using Information from Sources – Asks students to rate the challenge of using information from sources. (7 questions, Cronbach’s alpha = 0.80)
- Perceived Level of Difficulty: Finding Sources – Asks students to rate the challenge of finding sources. (7 questions, Cronbach’s alpha = 0.70)
- Perceived Level of Difficulty: Citing Sources – Asks students to rate the challenge of citing sources. (3 questions, Cronbach’s alpha = 0.80)
Depending on how institutions administer the HEDS Research Practices Survey, they can use the results to assess:
- Entering first-year students’ information literacy skills and precollege research experiences.
- First-year students’ information literacy skills and research experiences after 1 year of college.
- Senior students’ information literacy skills and research experiences after 4 years of college.
- Students’ changes in information literacy skills over the first college term, the first year of college, and over 4 years of college.
- 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.
*Please note that the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is transitioning from the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education to the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Because ACRL expects this transition to be a 2-year process, we did not make any revisions to our survey based on the Framework, but we are reviewing the new Frames in order to map our current questions to them. Find out more information about this transition.
Survey Administration Periods
You may select either a single or a longitudinal administration of the HEDS Research Practices Survey. The standard administration period is 3–6 weeks. We list the 2015–2016 schedule for single and longitudinal administrations of the survey below.
|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 3, 2015||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 4 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|
We do not count breaks such as Thanksgiving break and spring break in the administration period.
You can opt to conduct a single administration of the HEDS Research Practices Survey outside of these standard administration periods. For example, you may choose to administer the survey to sophomores in their spring term or to seniors in their fall term. However, because we do not have 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. If you opt to administer the survey outside of our standard administration periods, you:
- Must administer the survey for the standard 3–6 week period;
- Will receive a data file with your students’ responses from which you can generate reports;
- Will not receive comparison data or frequency reports.
Longitudinal Administration (additional $300 fee)
You can administer the HEDS Research Practices Survey longitudinally and track how individual students change by resurveying them and connecting their responses from each survey. You may choose from three longitudinal administration periods:
|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 approach is especially helpful for institutions that have a first-term course for entering students with a research or information literacy component.
|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 4 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 an additional $300 fee for the longitudinal report and data set.
To ensure a smooth administration process, we require that you designate one individual from your institution to serve as the survey liaison. We 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. We will provide details about these responsibilities after you register.
The HEDS Research Practices Survey can be administered by two different methods:
A member of the HEDS staff sends your students an individualized email invitation with a unique link to the survey. If students do not complete the survey, we will send reminders via email. You may customize both the invitation and the reminders. Email is the most common administration method.
Your institution’s survey liaison distributes a general survey link and a unique password to your students so they can log into the survey. Institutions often use this method when they wish to administer the survey in a classroom or computer lab.
Although survey liaisons typically select one survey administration method, you can, for an additional fee, select both methods. To ensure consistency in the administration process and the integrity of the comparative data, we do not allow institutions to administer any HEDS survey through their own survey engines.
HEDS administers its surveys via the commercial survey engine Qualtrics. Survey liaisons can use Qualtrics to monitor how many students have responded to the survey and when they responded, and they can also 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, 2017. Those institutions conducting 4-year longitudinal surveys will have access to their Qualtrics data until August 15, 2021. After these dates, we will delete the data, reports, and participant information from Qualtrics.
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 Adrea Hernandez (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 Microsoft Excel file with their participants’ responses. (HEDS staff will add values/labels to SPSS files.)||✓||✓|
|Institutional frequency report comparing their first-year students and/or seniors’ responses to those of students from the same class year(s) at other participating institutions. (Senior comparisons are only provided for the end-of-spring administration.)||✓||✓|
|SPSS and/or Microsoft Excel file with student-level data from participating HEDS institutions. Institutional identifiers will be included in the file, but participants’ identifiers will be removed.||✓|
|Interactive Microsoft Excel file with data on the four HEDS Research Practices Survey scales: Knowledge of Research Terms and Strategies; Perceived Level of Difficulty: Using Information from Sources; Perceived Level of Difficulty: Finding Sources; and Perceived Level of Difficulty: Citing Sources. This interactive data file allows you to create customized comparison groups among participating HEDS institutions.||✓|
In addition, we will send all institutions that participate in one of the three longitudinal administration options a matched data set and a report detailing how their students changed over the course of the longitudinal administration.
As a benefit of consortium membership, all HEDS institutions that participate in this survey will share their student- and institution-level data with one another unmasked. We will remove student names, identification numbers, and open-ended responses from the multi-institution data files. If necessary, we will further deprecate the data files to protect student identity.
In order to provide HEDS members with the largest number of comparison institutions, the interactive Microsoft Excel tool and the student-level data file you receive will include data from HEDS institutions that have participated in the HEDS Research Practices Survey over a 3-year span. This means we will send you updated files in 2017 and 2018 that include comparative data from institutions that have participated in the 2016–2017 and 2017–2018 administrations of the HEDS Research Practices Survey.
Other HEDS Research Practices Survey Information
- Using the previous version of HEDS Research Practices Survey to complete longitudinal assessments – Institutions that began a longitudinal study using the 2012–2013 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 Adrea Hernandez (email: or phone: 765-361-6343). This policy will remain in effect until the end of the spring 2016 administration.
- IRB approval – The HEDS Research Practices Survey has been approved by the Wabash College Institutional Review Board (IRB) for use as a voluntary survey. You can find the approval letter from the Wabash IRB here. We encourage your institution’s survey liaison to contact the IRB at your institution to determine whether their approval is needed prior to administering the survey.
- No mandatory participation – Institutions should not make the survey mandatory or use survey incentives that may affect voluntary participation without consulting their institution’s IRB. In addition, the introduction to the HEDS Research Practices Survey, which informs participants that the survey is voluntary, cannot be altered.
- 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.
- Supplemental questions – You 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 counts as one supplemental question:
- Each response on a multipart or matrix question
- “Check all that apply” or “Choose up to three” question
- Ranking question
- Multiple-choice question
- Open-response question
- Survey changes – We made minor revisions to the 2015–2016 HEDS Research Practices Survey. You can see a list of these changes here.
We list the fees for the 2015–2016 administrations of the HEDS Research Practices Survey in the following table. 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 in which you register to participate in the survey.
|HEDS institutions||Institutions not in HEDS|
|Base cost – single administration
|Base cost – longitudinal administration
All three longitudinal administrations also include the following for each administration of the survey in the longitudinal sequence:
($500 for 1st administration +
$500 for 2nd administration +
$300 fee for longitudinal report and data file)
($1,600 for 1st administration+
$1,600 for 2nd administration +
$300 fee for longitudinal report and data file)
|Using both administration methods (email and authentication)||+ $250||+ $250|
|11 to 20 supplemental questions (1 to 10 supplemental questions are included in base cost)||+ $250||+ $250|
Additional responses (after first 1,000 responses; count includes all administration methods, incomplete responses, and duplicate responses)
Additional response charges are invoiced after the survey closes and are separate from fees charged at registration. We will send data files and reports after your institution has paid its invoice.
|+ $.50 per extra response (including incomplete and duplicate responses)||+ $.50 per extra response (including incomplete and duplicate responses)|
|Late registration fee (see explanation in registration section below)||+ $250||+ $250|
If you select a single administration of the HEDS Research Practices Survey, you may request unique invitations, reminders, supplemental questions, etc., for different subsamples (for example, first-year vs. senior students). However, due to the additional labor such requests require, we will treat the surveys for each subsample as separate surveys and the full survey price will apply to each one.
If you select a longitudinal administration of the HEDS Research Practices Survey, you can create different invitations and reminders for different subsamples for no additional fee. However, if you would also like different supplemental questions, survey windows, or data reports for different subsamples, then we will treat the surveys for each subsample as separate surveys and the full survey price will apply to each one.
Registering for the HEDS Research Practices Survey
You can register for the HEDS Research Practices Survey via the online registration form. You must register at least 3 weeks prior to the date on which you plan to begin administering the survey. 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 $250 late fee.
HEDS Research Practices Survey Administration Contact
Please contact Adrea Hernandez (email: or phone: 765-361-6343) if you have any questions about administering the HEDS Research Practices Survey.