Step 4: Submit Other Study Documents

Incentive Plan

Incentives improve the quantity and may improve the quality of responses when surveying college students. The MSL will provide a base incentive that will be implemented nationwide at the conclusion of the MSL data collection. Students selected to participate in the survey will automatically be eligible for a random drawing from among $1,000 in prizes, specifically: one of ten $100 VISA/MC/Amex gift cards. 

We also encourage participating schools, if resources allow, to develop a local incentive plan to supplement and optimize the effectiveness of incentives on your campus. For a study of this scale, a random drawing is the most economical option. Due to many state and local laws, random drawings must be made available to all who are eligible.

In order to protect confidentiality, SR will draw the winners for sweepstakes-style prizes. For incentive plans initiated by your institution, we will select a list of winners from the students who were eligible for the MSL, regardless of whether or not they completed the survey, unless you indicate otherwise in submitting your incentive plan. You may designate up to 10 prize types. We will provide you with the names of the winners and the incentive each has won. This drawing will not take place until the national data collection is done and after all data collection for the MSL is completed.  

You must define your Incentive Plan before proceeding with Respondent Communications or the Consent Form, since language from the Incentive Plan is carried forward into these documents.

You may also choose to implement a per-respondent incentive by authorizing the MSL to send an email to anyone from your school who completes the survey. The email will include a description of the prize and may include one preloaded ID to ensure that the email is not duplicated when it is used to redeem the incentive. By selecting this option, you are agreeing to administer the delivery of that incentive.

The deadline for the submission of a customized incentive plan is 30 days prior to launch. Submit your incentive plan now through the link on your Dashboard.


Consent Form

You must define your Incentive Plan before proceeding with the Consent Form, since language from the Incentive Plan is carried forward into this document. If you have not yet completed your Incentive Plan submission, please complete it now before proceeding.

The Consent Form Templates are available below for your convenience. You may approve the appropriate template or submit modifications. If you miss the deadline for submitting a customized Consent Form, you will automatically be assigned the default Consent Form. The deadline for submitting your Consent Form is 30 days prior to launch.

NOTE:  The exact wording of the Consent Form will vary depending whether your school is participating as an ID-Link protocol school or Standard protocol school. Please make sure that you use the correct template.



Respondent Communications

You must define your Incentive Plan before proceeding to Respondent Communications section of this preparation, since language from the Incentive Plan is carried forward into these documents. If you have not yet completed your Incentive Plan submission, please return to it now before proceeding.

The Respondent Communications Template is available below. You may use the template or submit modifications to your School Coordinator. If you miss the deadline for submitting customized Respondent Communications, you will automatically be assigned standard Respondent Communications. Respondent Communications must be submitted 30 days prior to launch.

The Respondent Communications Template file includes the respondent communications for the following contacts:

·       Prenotification Email

·       Email Invitation

·       Email Reminder 1

·       Email Reminder 2

·       Email Reminder 3

·       Email Reminder 4

·       Thank You Email

The Thank You email is not a formal part of the respondent communications since it makes no request of the students. It simply serves as a confirmation/thank you message to participants once they have completed the survey. We have found that this type of communication helps in fostering a positive response to surveys when students receive them immediately after they complete the requested task.



Custom Questions

You have the option to add up to 10 custom questions* to the existing MSL questionnaire using the Custom Question Submission Form. You may also indicate that you do not wish to add custom questions using this form.

Since a representative from your institution writes these questions, they will match your particular assessment needs. They may provide additional context for:

·       Participant experience with specific programs or courses

·       Feedback on current campus issues

·       Additional demographic variables of respondents, such as out-of-state students or science majors

·       Additional outcomes of interest, such as post-graduation plans

When adding custom questions, please be aware that each additional question increases the burden for respondents and may reduce the completion rate.

* If you participated in a recent MSL and had your custom questions carried over, you will continue to have the option of including the identical custom questions used then, even if the total number of questions exceeds 10. However, if any changes are desired (including adding or removing a question), the limit of 10 custom questions will apply.

Custom Question Guidelines

All custom questions will be programmed as optional questions and will be presented on one scrollable final page of the survey. No skip logic (such as, “show question 3 if question 1=”yes”; otherwise skip to question 5”) or “grid”/”table” style questions are allowed.

The following question types are allowed:


·       Single Response - Vertical Categories (radio button/select one; up to 30 responses)

·       Single Response - Horizontal Categories (radio button/select one; up to 12 responses)

·       Multi-response (check box/select all; up to 30 responses)

·       Numeric Response (range validation allowed if lower/upper limits are provided)

·       Text Response (single line; 200 characters maximum)

·       Memo Response (text box; 5,000 characters maximum)

Tips for Designing Successful Custom Questions

·       Select simple words

·       Choose as few words as possible

·       Avoid conversational style

·       Use complete sentences

·       For "select one" questions, make sure responses are mutually exclusive

·       Make sure the questions are technically accurate

·       Whenever possible, consider using previously validated instruments

For additional guidance on custom question content and format, you may consult the document below:


Submitting Custom Questions

Submit Custom Questions using the link in your Dashboard 30 days prior to launch.

Report Order Form (Preliminary)

It is best to determine early-on what type of information will be most useful to your school. Reviewing the MSL Example Report is the best way to get a sense of what will be in the MSL report.  You may download a copy of the MSL Example Report here.  Although the Standard Report offers valuable insight regarding your student respondents, it is worth considering the addition of custom groupings to get the most out of your MSL experience. For more information regarding report contents, click on the following links:

Step 7: Standard Report Contents

Step 8: Supplemental Report Contents

Step 9: Report Groupings (Standard and Custom)

School Logo

Visual survey design standards suggest that having a visual anchor point in a web-based survey will increase the speed at which respondents proceed through the survey. Submit your school logo if you would like it to appear in the upper-left corner of each page in the survey, as shown below:


It is important that your institution’s brand is displayed appropriately. Therefore, we cannot modify or edit your logo in any way. This means that we must receive a logo from you that meets some very specific criteria. Please review your institution's policies on logo use prior to sending us your logo. We recommend that you provide the formatting guidelines and file dimension parameters (listed below) with the appropriate administrator who oversees the use of your school brand.

Additionally, many students today use mobile technologies to interact with web-based surveys. Because of this, it is especially important that we are sensitive to data usage. Logos can add a significant amount of data to download to the device. Our standards will set a reasonable limit, thus reducing respondent burden.

In order to maintain proper layout of the survey and your logo, please follow these guidelines when submitting a custom logo:

  • Logos must be submitted in one of the following web-friendly formats:

    • .jpg / .jpeg

    • .gif

    • .png

  • File sizes must be less than 50kb

  • File dimensions must be:

    • Height = max 75 pixels

    • Width = 80-220 pixels

Files submitted that do not fit within these parameters will be rejected. If you would like to upload your logo now click here to access your Dashboard.  

The deadline to submit your logo file is 30 days prior to launch. 

If you miss the deadline for submitting your school’s logo, or your submitted logo does not fit the required specifications, your students will see the default MSL logo.

 IT Troubleshooting Form

The School Information Technology (IT) Troubleshooting Form Template is available below.

An IT Troubleshooting form is not required; however, we strongly recommend that you complete one. Sharing the information on this form with your local IT department and having them provide some insight into how your email systems work will maximize the likelihood of a successful implementation. Additionally, the information provided on the form will enable the MSL team to address any technical issue that may arise in more timely and effective manner.

Our goal with the form is two-fold:

  1. To avoid problems that can be identified prior to data collection start.

  2. To address problems that come up during data collection most efficiently.

In past MSL data collections, we have found that about 25% of schools either avoid a problem, or more quickly address a problem by use of this form.

Your primary contact fills in the highlighted areas on page one of the form. Someone in your IT department completes page two.  

This form needs to be emailed to your School Coordinator prior to data collection start.


If you are participating in a Coalition or are interested in starting a coalition, please contact your School Coordinator.

Scott D. Crawford