OurSurveySays: online dashboard for the analysis of text-based survey responses

OurSurveySays is an online service for the analysis of open-text survey questions using Corpus Linguistic techniques. It has become a key tool in university planning, informing intervention and enhancement activities and supporting course teams.

Person filling out an online survey


Research background

The UK Higher Education (HE) sector gathers large quantities of student feedback via surveys. The most significant of these is the National Student Survey (NSS), the results of which influence rankings in university league tables. Institutions are also developing their own internal questionnaires and the number of nationwide HE surveys is ever increasing (e.g. PTES, PRES, UKES). As well as quantitative questions, many of these surveys include open-text questions in which students are free to express their own views and priorities. Responses number in the thousands per institution, but this valuable data cannot be properly explored due to the lack of suitable tools and the prohibitive time and cost of large-scale manual analysis.

Research aims 

OurSurveySays aims to close that gap by providing a management tool for open-text survey analysis and insight. It distils corpus linguistic knowledge and techniques into a web-based visualisation package for use by non-specialists, including marketing strategists, academic planners, and course directors.

Research methods

OurSurveySays is a combination of data-driven text analysis methods developed in linguistics and an easy-to-use visualisation front-end. The core technology has been developed from research into how words interact (across subject domains and in close proximity to each other) to enable key themes and topics to be extracted from large text collections. Via the interface, analysts can drill down into these themes and observe relations between them.

Research outcomes

OurSurveySays has become a key tool in informing policy intervention and enhancement activities, identifying priority areas for investment. It has changed the conversation around the NSS at BCU, offering a more collaborative approach than was previously practical.

The software is currently being trialled at BCU and several other UK universities. Through a free beta-testing initiative with OurSurveySays, one of the participating universities was able to gain insight into previously unexplained issues in one School, finding weaknesses in support and resources provided to those students not taking industry placements to be the root cause and subsequently employing new initiatives to combat the issue. Another university has used OurSurveySays to analyse applicant surveys (with 5000+ responses) after previously failing to find suitable analytical tools. One of the participating HEIs noted how the tool significantly sped up the provision of data to multiple departments at once, allowing them to respond to the data in a timely manner. OurSurveySays meets a management need where other tools and methods are lacking and is thus ensuring that the student voice is heard clearly.

Get in touch

If you are interested in learning more or becoming a beta tester, then get in touch with us.