University of Vermont

Information Technology

LimeSurvey: New UVM Standard Software for On-line Surveys

The Perseus system that has served UVM well for a number of years for creating and administering on-line surveys has been discontinued by its developer.  For several months, a cross-functional team of ETS staff and experienced clients and support staff has been exploring alternative systems.  After analyzing over a dozen alternatives, the Team came down to two candidates:  LimeSurvey and RedCap.  After further analysis and a public demonstration of the two systems, it was clear that RedCap would not meet the needs of faculty and staff researchers with typical surveys.  So while RedCap was considered by many to be easier to learn, it alone couldn't be the only system supported at UVM.
In order to maximize the on-campus expertise and quality of service and to minimize the duplication of staff support effort, we've chosen to bring up LimeSurvey as our standard on-line survey software to replace Perseus.  In support of that effort, ETS staff are collecting and developing tutorials and demonstration materials to help individuals get started using LimeSurvey, and they have prepared a brief getting-started document similar to the one available for Perseus.  

LimeSurvey offers strong support for research surveys, with branching logic, flexible question formats, anonymous or identified participants, and a variety of output formats and graphical displays for the data collected.  LimeSurvey is widely used in higher education, so there is a wealth of training and demonstration information already available on the Web from other sites.  UVM's implementation of LimeSurvey includes authentication with UVM's NetID/password system, so it's very easy to get started in a secured environment.

The support development effort is well under way now, and new training and support materials will continue to appear at the ETS survey support site,   Check that site for tutorials and for the link to LimeSurvey to get started.

We plan to decommission the Perseus server as soon as active users have converted from it but no later than December 31, 2010.  If you've used Perseus for certification or training quizzes, you might consider converting to Blackboard; otherwise you'll likely want to convert to LimeSurvey immediately.  Data from past surveys will be available for some time on the MySQL database server but would require nontrivial manual conversion (SQL, Access+ODBC, etc.) to be retrieved or to be merged with new surveys.   It will be easiest to use the Perseus portal to retrieve survey data before December 31.

Thanks to Carley Tillinghast and Ben Schacher for leading the team investigating survey software options and for taking on ongoing support of LimeSurvey; to team members Phil Plourde, Darcy Pientka, Emily Stebbins, Alan Howard, Chip Sawyer, Ralph Stuart, Larry Kost, and Eric Hoefel; to Ben Coddington, Jim Lawson, Mike Austin for server implementation and UVM customization; to Deb Goller and Megan Hack for UVM branding; to Jonathan Trigaux for work on the survey web site; to Geoffrey Duke for coordinating the survey software showcase; to Carol Caldwell-Edmonds for exploring Helpline support options; to David Todd for support of the selection process; and to everyone who has tested survey software and participated in identifying an outstanding replacement for Perseus.  

Anyone with an active UVM NetID can create a LimeSurvey survey.  If you have questions about LimeSurvey that aren't addressed by the LimeSurvey support site, please contact the LimeSurvey support team via the Computing Helpline.    

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