Step 3: Submit Sample File

The tasks in Step 3 may be related to your IRB approval. Your IRB may require additional information or modifications before approval is granted.

Ready to Submit Your File to SoundRocket?  If so, scroll down to the bottom of this page for instructions.

Sample File

Sample Definitions

Why deadlines are important

In survey research, it is important to define the population of study as precisely and as accurately as possible, therefore schools select a specific date for the sample frame eligibility requirement. As an example, the U.S. Census has a “Census Day,” which since 1930 has been on April 1 of each census year.

For the MSL, the use of specific eligibility dates has several advantages:

  • It allows for equal comparisons and benchmarking between schools.

  • Establishing a deadline gives sufficient time for schools to provide student information to SoundRocket for the earlier data collection launches.

  • The MSL Delta Measure is a measure of change over time, comparing students’ pre-college experiences to their experiences today. By selecting a sample of students who have experienced some time on campus, (such as students enrolled by November 1 for Winter data collection) the MSL Delta Measure will be more likely to capture measurable differences since pre-enrollment.

The MSL Population of Study: To ensure consistency and standardization of the MSL across schools, the population of study for the MSL is defined as any full- or part-time undergraduate student who is at least 18 years old and is enrolled at a participating MSL school.

The MSL Sample Frame: Studying student populations within higher education comes with the benefit of having easy access to a high-quality sample frame. For example, while it is not easy to identify a master list of people who live in a city, it is much easier to identify a master list of students who are currently enrolled at a university in that city. Most schools find that their institution’s Office of the Registrar (or similar) can provide an adequate file from which students that fit the population definition may be selected. You may use whatever sample frame (list) source that will give you the most accurate access to the desired Population of Study as defined above.

The Sample: When we refer to “the Sample,” we are referring to all students who are selected to participate in the MSL from the Sample Frame identified above, whether they are selected as part of the Random Sample (see below) or as a Supplemental Sample. The specifics of the process of selecting the sample from the frame are described below. 

Supplemental Sample: Supplemental Sample includes any additional students provided to SoundRocket that may or may not have been selected as part of the Random Sample, but which you may add for inclusion in the study for your own research purposes. No assumptions are made by the MSL Research Team or SoundRocket as to the criteria of selection for these cases, except that they must be 18 years old or older to participate in the survey.

Random Sample Selection

The MSL sample design requests that a sample of 4,000 full- and part-time students be randomly selected from students enrolled at your institution. We consider a random sample to be a list that is generated through a random selection process that gives each student an equal probability of selection.

A simple random sample is NOT a selection from the first 4,000 cases from the school registrar list (especially since most lists are sorted in alphabetical order—leading to a selection that would over-represent individuals whose last names appear early in the alphabet).  It is also NOT a convenience sample of students, or a sample of a subset of students (i.e. first year students).

Most schools have the capability to select a scientific random sample of students from within their registrar’s office. However, if your school does not, or if you are unsure, SoundRocket can complete this process for you. In such a case, we will require that the full population of students who fit the definition above be provided to us. We will then select the sample using a random procedure and delete those that were not selected. 

If you are unable to select 4,000 cases for any reason, please communicate with your School Coordinator about your limitations.

Sample Size

  • Standard Random Sample - 4,000 undergraduate students

  • Small Schools (fewer than 4,000 undergraduate students enrolled) - full population of undergraduates

Required, Recommended, and Optional Variables

The tables below outline the required, recommended, and optional variables to include in your sample file.

For a thorough description of each of the above variables, download the Sample Variable Guide.

Required Variables

Highly Recommended Variables

Custom Variables


Supplemental Sample (Optional)

You may draw an additional sample to be included in the survey. These cases may go above and beyond the random sample, and also may overlap with the random sample. Additionally, they may be used as a comparison group in reporting, or for other analytic purposes.

The only limit to the size of this sample is the full size of the undergraduate student population at your institution (as documented by the Department of Education in the IPEDS data system). We recommend that you clearly identify if you are selecting a supplemental sample in any IRB review conducted at your school.

Supplemental cases are students who are typically of interest to your school as a group. They may overlap the random sample cases; however, they are not required to do so. You can choose to include these cases as a comparison column (or columns) in your final report. Supplemental cases will also be included in the final analytic data file that will be provided to your school.

In past MSL survey administrations, schools have selected students in leadership courses, orientation leaders, RA’s, student government members, specific program members (i.e., engineering students), peer leadership teams, students living in a specific Living-Learning program, and many other similar groups as supplemental samples.

Including supplemental cases or random sample cases, as also belonging to a supplemental group, is necessary if your school wishes to include a custom “Comparison” column in your final report.

Identifying Your Supplemental Cases & Groups

You must identify your supplemental cases in the sample file that you provide. The following are instructions on how to document each Supplemental Group:

  1. Create multiple variables (one for each supplemental group) called COMPARExx, replacing “xx” with sequential two-digit numbers (starting with 01). Each variable will be used to identify an individual group.

  2. Assign a value of 1 to the variable if the case is to be included in the supplemental group identified by the current COMPARExx variable.

  3. Assign a value of 0 to the variable if the case is NOT to be included in the supplemental group identified by the current COMPARExx variable.

  4. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for each COMPARExx variable you are including.

  5. When submitting your file, you will be asked to provide labels for all COMPARExx variables. For example,

COMPARE01 (RA’s)        

0    Not RA’s        
1    RA’s      

COMPARE02 (Leadership Class Participants)   

0    Not Leadership Class Participants        
1    Leadership Class Participants

Sample Template

Download the sample template to see an example of the correct format for submitting your sample, as well as instructions for how to fit your data into this format.


Submit Your Sample to SoundRocket

If you are ready to submit your sample to SoundRocket - you must do so through a secure sample file submission tool located in your Dashboard.

Sample files must be submitted to SoundRocket no later than 4 full weeks prior to your launch date!

Do not under any circumstance send the student list via an email attachment.

You must submit all cases in one file; we cannot accept multiple files.  

For information about our confidentiality and privacy policy, please visit the Research Ethics section of the SoundRocket website (also accessible from the footer at the bottom of each page).

Scott D. Crawford