Implementing a 'save & return' feature

Hello. I’m wondering how to implement a ‘save & return’ function within the survey?

Please provide more details on what you would like to achieve. What have you done so far and what is the step you have difficulty with? That will make it easier to help you.

I apologise for the delay in my response. I would like to enable participants to start the survey, exit, and resume it from where they left off at a later time. Currently, I’m in the process of setting up the survey, so I haven’t tried to apply this feature yet. Is there a specific setting I can apply to allow participants to exit the survey screen and return to the same point later?

Thank you,

There is indeed a setting that might help you. In the survey editor, choose Deploy → Invitations. Do you see an “Integrate Panel” button in the top right corner of the screen? This depends on your subscription and whether your account has been approved by SurveyEngine to use panels.

Click that button to create a new panel invitation. On the invitation settings screen, tick the “Resume sessions” box and click “Save Settings”. Now if a respondent using this invitation enters the survey again with the same external ID (e.g. after closing the browser) they will return to the page where they left off earlier. There is no need to actively save before leaving.

Hello Lutz,
That’s really helpful, thank you! Please excuse my ignorance, but I have two follow-up questions:

(1) Will the software automatically detect the external ID, meaning the participant doesn’t need to enter a code or use the same device? Instead, they just have to use the same hyperlink/invitation?

(2) Will enabling this feature have any implications on protecting the confidentiality of any personal information provided by participants during the survey?

Thanks again,

First, let’s make sure we are talking about the same thing. The external ID is the part at the very end of your invitation link. By default, the link ends with ...?extid=example_id. You can change the name of the parameter (default extid) with the “ID parameter” setting. The value of the parameter (example_id by default) is the value that distinguishes your respondents from each other. It should be different for every respondent. It is also recommended to use values that cannot be guessed easily (e.g. by counting up or down from a known value).

Regarding question (1):
Normally, i.e. if you have not checked the “Resume sessions” option, someone calling the invitation link will either be refused (if the external ID has been used up and the “Allow reentrant IDs” option is not checked) or a new session is started. They will never continue an existing session by calling the invitation link. In contrast, if the “Resume sessions” option is checked and an open session with the given ID exists then the respondent continues the existing session. This depends only on the external ID, not on the device or anything else.

Regarding question (2):
Following from the above, someone who knows the invitation link (including external ID) belonging to someone else can continue that other person’s session. Importantly, if the survey settings allow a respondent to go back in the survey, the intruder can see all previous answers. Even if this is not the case, the presence e.g. of display conditions can reveal previous answers. If you use the “Resume sessions” option then the external ID of a respondent should be treated confidentially like a password. Note that the session cannot be accessed any more once it has been closed (e.g. completed, screened out, or timed out). Hence, you could mitigate the risk by setting a shorter timeout. Obviously, this also limits the usefulness of the resume session feature.

Addition: Also note that the respondent can always bookmark or otherwise store the URL from the address bar in the browser and use that to return to the same page of their session later. Again the value of the PLAYSID parameter should be treated confidentially. The advantage of the previously described method is that the respondent does not need to store anything, but can reuse the invitation link that they used to start the survey in the first place.

That’s really helpful. Thank you very much!