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Import Data Element


The Import Data element allows you to include previously collected data in a new survey. Data imported to a survey can be appended to the report and data set, used to pipe in imported variables or control the flow of respondents through the survey with logic conditions.

1: Adding a Key Variable 

In order to successfully import data using the Import Data element, you will first need to ensure that you have a unique identifying variable to match your imported data to your survey data. This variable is known as a Key Variable and it can be any word or alphanumeric string, but its value should be unique for each respondent and match their records within both the imported data and survey data.

Note: It is not recommended to use record as your Key Variable, as this is an automatically assigned variable and is unique to each completion attempt rather than to each respondent.

1.1: To the Data File 

To ensure that your Key Variable matches, you must add it to both the import data file and to the survey itself. To add it to a data file, you will simply need to open the data file, add a new column with your Key Variable’s name as the header, and list each respondent’s unique code in their data row.

Note: Data files must be in either Excel (.xls, .xlsx) or text/.txt (comma-separated/csv, tab-delimited) format in order to import them into a survey.

For example, if you decided to add “pin” as your Key Variable, your data file may look like the below, where column B includes all of the uniquepincodes per respondent:

If you would prefer to use a recipient list from the Campaign Manager as your data file, click here for a guided example on how to export, update, and re-import this file using the Import Data element.

1.2: To the Survey 

Once you have added your Key Variable to your import data file, you will also need to add it as a unique variable within your current survey.

To set your Key Variable as a required variable in your current survey, click on the “Sample Sources” element in the Survey Editor and select the sample source you will be using for field:

Then add your Key Variable name, adjust its requirement level using the drop-down menu, and click “save” to apply it to your survey:

Tip: It is recommended that you set your Key Variable to “unique” before setting a survey live with imported data. This will ensure that only respondents who have a matching value from your import list are able to access your survey.

Once you have added your Key Variable to both your data file and your current survey, you can begin the import process using the Import Data element.

2: Adding the Import Data Element 

To add the Import Data element to your survey, first go to the Survey Element Manager within the Survey Editor and select the "Structural" category. Then choose "Import Data” and click "Insert":

Once inserted, the "Import Data" window will appear, where you can select an import method and manage your datasources:

3: Choosing an Import Method 

There are two options for importing data using the Import Data element. You can import data from an existing project using its survey path, or you can upload data from an external file.

To upload data from an external file, click "Upload Data File." To import data from another project in the research hub, click "Import Project Data”:

3.1: Using an External Data File 

If you choose to import the data by uploading an external file, click "Browse..." to locate the file on your computer, then click "Upload":

You can import files in these formats:

  • Excel (.xls, .xlsx)
  • Text/.txt (comma-separated/csv, tab-delimited)

The importer reads the first line in the file and creates variables based on the content. The data file must contain a unique variable to identify and match to the respondents in the new survey and may contain additional variables to append.

3.2: Using Another Project 

If you choose to import data from another project in the research hub, you can find your source project by either entering its project name (e.g., "Naming Study") or its survey path (e.g., "selfserve/111/101011").

Note: The two surveys’ data must contain one matching variable for aligning records.

If you know the survey name for the project you would like to use as a datasource, start by typing it into the “Project path” field. As you type in the name of the project, suggestions will appear in a drop-down list below. You may choose from the suggestions provided or continue typing to narrow your search. Once the appropriate project name is selected, click "Import”:

Alternatively, if you know the path for the project, simply enter this into the “Project path” field and then click “Import”:

4: Preparing Datasources 

Whatever method you choose, once imported, your new datasource will appear in the "Datasources" section of the menu and options for it will appear on the right side of the window.

The following options must be configured before a datasource can be enabled:

  1. Datasources: This box includes all sources you add for importing data to your project. You can toggle between datasources at any time to view and adjust their individual options, as well as to append additional data.
  2. Append Data to this Datasource: You can click on this button to append additional records to an existing datasource.
  3. Datasource Name: The name of the selected datasource will appear as the original file or project name. To change the datasource name, enter a new one in the field provided.
  4. Key Variables: The "Key Variable" is used to match the imported data to the data in the current project. Select the variable for your current project from the menu on the left side of the equals sign; then choose the matching variable for the imported data from the menu on the right.
  5. Use case-insensitive variable matching: The import system uses case-sensitive matching by default. If you would like to ignore cases in variable matching, check the box provided.
  6. Select the Variables to include: All variables available for import will appear in this list. Check the box next to any variable to include it in your datasource.
  7. Apply Options: Once all options are configured, click "Apply Options" to import your data. When the extraction is complete, click "OK."
  8. Close: Once your options have been configured and applied, click "Close” to exit the Import Data menu.

5: Editing a Datasource 

Once you have applied all options, your new datasource will appear in the question tree and stage area of your current survey:

To edit a datasource, click "Edit datasource”. If you wish to delete a datasource, click on the "x" in the top left corner:

5.1:  Piping a Variable from Imported Data 

If you would like to show imported respondents their previous responses within your new survey, you can pipe variables from your appended data using the Piping Tool. The Piping Tool will provide a list of all of the datasources and elements in your survey to use for piping:

Select the variable you would like to pipe from the list and click “Apply” to add a pipe to your survey. For example, if you had appended respondents’ first names in your datasource as fname, you would add the fname variable via the Piping Tool to show respondents’ names in your survey introduction:

In order for variables from the imported data to be visible for respondents, the piped text must come after the imported datasource and be on a separate page:

5.2: Setting Logic Conditions with Imported Data 

It is also possible to set up logic conditions based on appended data. To do this, you would just need to add survey logic as you normally would, and point this to the label of the datasource you would like to use.

Note: As with piping, any element using logic from appended data must be inserted in the survey after the imported data and on a separate page.

For example, if you would like to terminate respondents based on age, and they provided their age previously in your “age” variable, you could use this variable label in your terminate logic. To do this, you would just add a Terminate element to your survey after the age variable, and select “+ New Condition” to build out the terminate logic:

In the “Logic Conditions Setup” menu, you would select the age datasource variable from the drop-down menu, set the appropriate logic conditions, and click “save” to add the terminate to your survey:

If you enter “<18,>50” per the above example, respondents will terminate if they have less than 18 or greater than 50 listed as their age value in the imported data list.

6: Testing a Datasource 

To verify that a datasource is functioning correctly, you will need to test through your survey using a Key Variable value that matches one listed within your datasource. To do this, simply copy a unique Key value from your datasource and attempt to take the survey yourself, using the “Show survey with testing tools” link:

Using the Survey Testing Toolbar, check that QA Codes are turned on.

When the imported data elements and conditions are reached in the survey test, users’ appended data should be populated in a hidden question. In the example below, the unique pin variable is populated and matches the data file for the respondent, ensuring that the data file has been appended correctly:

7: Appending Data to a Live Survey 

To use the Import Data element in a live survey, you will follow the same steps as above, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Imported data for respondents who have finished the survey will be back-filled in the datasource as long as the Key Variable was captured in the survey data. Data for these respondents will be populated in the reports, even if the Import Data Element was added after the survey was completed.
  • In a live survey, appended data will be auto-populated in survey questions only for respondents entering/re-entering the survey after the append. Any respondents already taking the survey will have their imported data appended to the reports only.
  • Logic and piping based off of imported data will only apply to respondents entering the survey after the live changes have been merged. Any respondent who has passed the element with the logic or pipe will be unaffected.
  • Once your survey is live, you should only add elements or datasources and never make deletions. Removing elements will also remove their datapoints and cause your survey datamap to shift.
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