Common Question Attributes

Ethica supports 13 question types. Each question, regardless of its type, has the following attributes:

Question ID:
Each question is automatically assigned a numerical ID unique within the survey. This ID is used to uniquely identify the question, or reference it when writing a criteria. It is not related to the order of the question within the survey.

Question Type:
The type of the question is a property of the question which you can change. This enables you to quickly change the type of a question for example from Single-Answer to Multiple-Answer, or from Audio to Audio-Text.

Question content:
The content of the question to be shown to the participant. This content supports a limited set of HTML tags, and may contain zero or more video or image. You can also use placeholders in your content which will be replaced by their value before Ethica shows the content to the participant.

Mandatory:
Whether the response to this question is mandatory or not? Participants have to provide an answer to the mandatory question before they can continue to the next question. If the question is marked as optional, participants can skip answering the question.

Enabled:
Whether the question is by default enabled or disabled. If a question is disabled, it will not be presented to the participant, and the participant can continue the survey without answering the question, even if it's mandatory.

The Enabled status of a question can be linked to a potential answer in a given Single Answer or Multiple Answer question. This way, if the designated answer is selected by the participant, the question will be enabled, otherwise, it will be disabled. You can read more about this in the Enabling/Disabling Questions section.

Question Types

Information

You can use Information to show blocks of text, image, or video to participants. The content shown for this question, similar to the content of any other question type, supports basic HTML tags. You can format the text into paragraphs, style the text by using bold or italic, or add hyperlinks. The following image shows how information question is presented in the Ethica app:

Information Question in an Ethica Survey

Text

In this type of question, participants are provided with a text box where they can type in a text as their response. In addition to the common attributes mentioned above, a text question can have the following attributes:

Format:
Defines a specific format for the response. The value is a regular expression which the provided answer will be matched against. If not provided, any answer will be accepted. For example, in the screenshot below the format is specified as ^[a-zA-Z][a-zA-Z][a-zA-Z]$, hence only three-letter alphabetical strings will be accepted. Also, we support these predefined formats: Email, URL, Phone number, and Number. The regular expressions used for these formats will take care of most cases you might ever need.

Text Question in an Ethica Survey

Hint:
A hint to be shown to the participant for their response to this question. This string will be shown inside the textbox while it's still empty. It’s a good practice to use a descriptive hint when a given Format is used. For example in the screenshot above, the hint is set to ABC to indicate that a three-letter alphabetical string is expected.

Multi-line:
Whether the participant can enter multiple lines of text (the default behavior) or only one line?

Autocomplete Options:
This option allows you to specify a set of options which participants very likely are going to enter as their response to this question, and Ethica will provide them to the participants through an autocomplete user interface. Note that this option is only available for single-line text questions.

To set the Autocomplete options, click on this item in the Properties panel to open the Autocomplete Options dialog, and then enter each option in a separate line:

Text Question Autocomplete Options

If you set these options, participants will be prompted with the proper options as they start typing their answer to the question:

Text Question Autocomplete Options Phone Example

Use Past Answers for Autocomplete:
If you set your question to show autocomplete options, participants still may enter an answer which is not part of the options you have provided them. In this case, you can instruct Ethica to automatically add the provided answer to the participant's own auto-complete options. In this case, all participants start the study by seeing the same set of options you have provided them via the Autocomplete Options. But as they enter different values as the response to this question, their responses will be added to their set of options, and each participant will receive autocomplete options customized based on their previous responses.

Audio

Audio questions allow participants to record their response as an audio file using their phone's microphone.

Audio Question in an Ethica Survey

Audio & Text

Audio & Text questions provide participants with the option to either type their response or record it as audio using the microphone. Many attributes available to Audio & Text questions are similar to the ones for a Text question.

Audio & Text Question in an Ethica Survey

Image

Image questions allow participants to take a picture as their response. Alternatively, they can choose a previously captured image from their phone's image library.

Image Question in an Ethica Survey

Video

Video questions allow participants to capture a video as their response. Alternatively, they can choose a previously recorded video from their phone's video library.

Multiple Answer

Multiple Answer questions provide participants with one or more potential choices from which they can choose zero or more as their response, using a checkbox interface.

Note that if a Multiple Answer question is set to mandatory, participants have to choose at least one answer. Therefore, it's important to ensure provided choices cover all possible cases the participant may want to choose, including choices such as None of the above.

In addition to the common attributes mentioned above, a Multiple Answer question can have the following attributes:

Answer Randomization:

You can randomize the selection of the answers within your question using the options available in the Answer Randomization. The random selection allows you to choose a subset of answers within your question using the Included Answer ID(s) option, and also choose a Selection Count. Using this, besides the answers that are not part of the Included Answer ID(s), only a subset of the specified answers will be used to construct the question, where the size of the subset is the same as the Selection Count.

For example, assume your question has 7 answers, with IDs from 1 to 7. Also, assume the Included Answer ID(s) is set to 3, 4, and 5, and the Selection Count is set to 2. With these settings, answers 1, 2, 6, and 7 will always be part of the question, and from answers 3, 4, and 5, only two randomly selected answers will be used to construct the question.

Similarly, you can enable the Random Answer Order option. Doing so will randomize the order in which these answers are displayed.

Please note that these randomizations happen only once for each survey session whenever the corresponding survey is opened.

Maximum Choices:
Using this option, you can specify how many choices participants can select at most to answer this question. Participants can select any number of choices between zero (or one, for mandatory questions), and this number, as part of their response.

Potential Answers:
A Multiple Answer question (similar to a Single Answer question) contains a list of possible answers, which will be presented to the participant. Each of these answers, in turn, has certain properties that define if and how selecting that given answer should modify the survey flow. The following image shows a Multiple Answer question with 4 answers, and the last one (Answer ID 5) is selected. So you can see the properties of this answer in the right-side Properties panel:

Properties of a Given to a Multiple Answer
Question

As you can see in the Answer Properties panel, in addition to an ID, each answer has three other properties as follow:

Enable questions:
This property allows you to define a list of questions which is enabled or disabled based on whether this answer is selected or not, respectively (as described here. The value of this property should be a comma-separated list of question IDs (without the preceding Q, just the question ID). In this example, selecting the fifth answer, Other (please specify), will enable question IDs 10 and 11, while not selecting this answer will make these question IDs disabled (hidden).

Next Section ID:
This specifies the section which should be shown following the current section, given this answer is selected. The available options are:

  • No Change: Selecting or deselecting this answer should not change the current order of the sections. Therefore this answer has no impact on the survey flow. This is the default option.
  • Finish the Survey: Selecting this answer will mark this section as the last section and will finish the survey.
  • Section Number: Selecting a given section number will instruct Ethica to continue from the section specified here.

Text vs Image:
Potential answers can be as a text or as an image. If you prefer to use an image for a given answer of a given Multiple Answer or Single Answer question, you simply can switch to the Image option and then upload the desired image instead of typing the text for that answer.

Single Answer

Single Answer questions provide participants with one or more potential answers and allows them to choose only one of them using the radio button interface. In addition to the common attributes mentioned above, a Single Answer question can have all the attributes a Multiple Answer question may have, except the Maximum Choices.

Single Answer Question in an Ethica Survey

Visual Analog Scale (VAS)

Visual Analog Scale (or VAS, for short) questions provide participants with a slider which they can use to choose their response. The slider supports values from 0 to a positive number, and by default, the number chosen by the participant is shown above the slider. Optionally you can define a label for each range of numbers (e.g. Too hard for answers between 0 to 2) and the slider shows the label for the responses in that range.

In addition to the common attributes mentioned above, a VAS question can have the following attributes:

Step:
You can use this attribute to specify how many steps the slider should jump every time the participant moves it. By default, the slider moves by 1 step in either direction on each move.

Maximum:
The upper bound for the number that participants can choose. It has to be a positive number. The slider will support values from 0 to this number. Defaults to 100.

Scale Map:
The map between the selected number and the label or image to display. This map comprises a set of 2-tuple elements, where each element consists of a number and a label or an image. The number indicates the lower bound, from which point (inclusive) onward, the provided label or image will be shown. You do not specify the upper bound here. Rather, the upper bound is calculated as another element's lower bound which is higher than the current lower bound. For example, consider a VAS question where the slider is set to accept numbers from 0 to 10, and the Scale Map is set to the following:

0 -> Very few
4 -> Some
6 -> A lot

If the participant moves the slider to select any number between 0 and 3, the label Very few will be shown. If the participant moves the slider between 4 and 5, the label Some will be shown. Similarly, the label A lot will be shown for choices between 6 to 10.

Visual Analog Scale Question in an Ethica Survey

Right Anchor:
This text will be shown as the right-side anchor (or the top anchor, if a vertical layout is used) of the VAS question. Defaults to empty text.

Left Anchor:
This text will be shown as the left-side anchor (or the bottom anchor, if a vertical layout is used) of the VAS question. Defaults to empty text.

Vertical Layout:
If set, Ethica will show a vertical slider instead of a horizontal slider. For vertical sliders, the bottom represents the minimum value and the top represents the maximum.

Show Selection Value:
Whether the numeric value selected by the participant should be displayed as well or not.

Show Selection Label:
Whether the label (text or image) of the value selected by the participant should be displayed as well or not. The label will be calculated based on the specified Scale Map.

Text vs Image:
Whether the label contains text or images.

Number

Number questions provide participants with an option to pick a number as their response. In addition to the common attributes mentioned above, a number question can have the following attributes:

Step:
In addition to typing the number, participants have the option to change the selected number by pressing the up or down arrow (as shown in the image below). Each press on the top and down arrow increases or decreases the selected value by the amount specified here. For example, if the question asks about age, each tap on the up or down arrow can increase or decrease the shown value by one year.

Minimum:
The minimum acceptable value as an answer.

Maximum:
The maximum acceptable value as an answer.

Default:
The default value. If skipped, no default value will be shown.

Display Unit:
The unit for this number. The text specified here will be shown next to the number selected by participants. For example, in the screenshot below the Display Unit is set to years.

Number Question in an Ethica Survey

Mass

Mass questions provide participants with an option to pick a mass value (in KG or LBs) as their response. Using mass questions instead of simple number questions where possible not only provides a better user interface for participants, it also simplifies the analysis in many ways such as unit conversion. In addition to the common attributes mentioned above, a mass question can have the following attributes:

Default Unit:
The default unit of the response. It can be either kg or lbs.

Step:
Similar to Number questions, this allows participants to increase or decrease the value shown by the specified amount.

Minimum:
The minimum acceptable value as an answer, in the default unit.

Maximum:
The maximum acceptable value as an answer, in the default unit.

Default:
The default value. If skipped, no value is shown by default.

Mass Question in an Ethica Survey

Length

Length questions provide participants with an option to pick a length value (in metric or imperial) as their response. Similar to Mass questions, using length questions instead of a simple Number question where possible not only provides a better user interface for participants, it also simplifies the analysis in many ways such as unit conversion. In addition to the common attributes mentioned above, a length question has the following attributes:

Default Unit:
The default unit of the response. It can be either cm for metric or ft_in for imperial.

Step:
Similar to Number questions, this allows participants to increase or decrease the value shown by the specified amount.

Minimum:
The minimum acceptable value as an answer, in the default unit.

Maximum:
The maximum acceptable value as an answer, in the default unit.

Default:
The default value. If skipped, no value is shown by default.

Length Question in an Ethica Survey

Barcode Scanner

Barcode questions allow participants to scan a barcode or QR code as their response. The following image shows the user interface for barcode questions in a survey. When a participant presses the Scan Barcode button, Ethica will start the camera, allowing the participant to scan the barcode. The value of the barcode will be shown to the participant and taken as the response to the question.

Barcode Question in an Ethica Survey

Calendar

Calendar questions allow participants to select a date, a time of day, or a combination of date and time, as their response. It also supports selecting a time or date period.

Calendar Question in an Ethica Survey

In addition to the common attributes mentioned above, a calendar question has the following attributes:

Selector:
Determines whether this calendar question should allow participants to only pick dates, or only pick a time, or pick a combination of date and time.

Minimum:
The minimum value this calendar question can accept. This only limits the day the participant can select (assuming the Selector is for Date or Date/Time) and the participant can select any time they prefer. Therefore if the Selector is Time, this value will be discarded. If the minimum day is expected to be the day the participant answers the question, check Use participant's today in the Properties panel. This way the minimum date will be the current date when the participant is answering the question.

Maximum:
The maximum value this calendar question can accept. This only limits the day the participant can select (assuming the Selector is for Date or Date/Time) and the participant can select any time they prefer. Therefore if the Selector is Time, this value will be discarded. If the maximum day is expected to be the day the participant answers the question, check Use participant's today in the Properties panel. This way the maximum date will be the current date when the participant is answering the question.

Period:
If selected, the participant will be asked to choose a period, rather than a single time. The start and end of the selected period will depend on the Selector, and it can be either:

  • A date range, e.g. Jun 1st, 2019 to Jun 5th, 2019
  • A time range, e.g. 10:30 to 13:50
  • A date and time range, e.g. Jun 1st, 2019 10:30 to Jun 5th, 2019 13:50

Minute Interval:
The time interval the participant can choose. The options are 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, and 60. If set to 1, the participant can pick any minute of a given hour. If set to 15, the participant can only choose the quarters, i.e. 10:00, 10:15, 10:30, and 10:45. If set to 60, the participant can only choose hours, e.g. 10:00 or 11:00.

Adjusting Question Content

Formatting Question Content

The font and text size of the survey is chosen based on the default font and text size of the device. This will provide the Participant with a consistent user interface as experienced in the rest of their apps. Ethica offers a few options to refine this for each question. For example, a text can be set to be shown slightly larger or smaller than the device’s default text size, or it can be set to be bold or italic. These changes can be done using HTML tags in the question content. Ethica currently supports the following HTML tags as part of the question content:

p, ul, li, div, span, strong, b, em, cite, dfn, i, big, small, font, tt, a, u, del, s, strike, sup, sub, h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6, img, br

The text editor in the Survey Editor allows you to apply all these modifications using a graphical interface:

Question Content Editor for Ethica
Surveys

Note that if you use a URL in your question content, the target link should be HTTPS. HTTP links may not work in some versions of Android and iOS.

Multimedia

Each of the questions described above consists of a content section, which includes the text of the question being posed. The content can include any combination of text, image, and video. For adding images, simply click on the image icon in the editor toolbar, and upload your image from your computer. For video, Ethica only supports videos from YouTube. You need to upload your video to YouTube first, and then add its link to your question content using the editor.

Adding Video to Your Question
Content

Ethica will add a video player to your question content and loads the video thumbnail in it, as shown below:

Question Content with a Video

Note that even though Ethica expects you to upload your video to YouTube and provide the link, the Ethica app will not ask the participant to open the YouTube app to see the video. The video player will be fully embedded in the Ethica's survey question, and the participant will not see any sign of YouTube. Here, YouTube will only host the video and provide it to Ethica to be played for the participant.

If your question content contains a video, Ethica records all interactions participants have with that video. This includes how long, in total, the participant watched the video, e.g. 110 seconds. This may be longer than the video length, which means the participant watched parts of the video more than once. It also includes how the video was watched. This will be the start and end time of each watch session. For example, assume the video is 120 seconds, and the participant watches it from 0 to 30th second and then jumps to 75th second and watches to the end. In this case, you will get an array as follow:

[
    [0, 30],
    [75, 120]
]

Placeholders

In the Criteria section we described how you can use survey ID and question ID to point to a response to a given question, and use that in your criteria conditions, for example Q1_2 refers to the response to question 2 of survey 1.

You can use a very similar format in your question content as a placeholder for the response to that question, for example: {{Q1_2}}. If your question content contains such a placeholder, Ethica will replace that with the last response the participant has provided to that question and then shows the question to the participant. For example, the following question content:

Hi {{user_fname}}. Which of the following steps are you going to take toward your social goal of “{{Q12_6}}”?

Will be presented to the Participants as:

Hi Bill. Which of the following steps are you going to take toward your social goal of “Make a new friend by going to the events you are interested in”?

Assuming the response to question #6 of survey #12 has been Make a new friend by going to the events you are interested in.

Currently, you can use placeholders for the response to the questions of the following types:

  • Text
  • Audio & Text
  • Multiple Answer
  • Single Answer
  • Visual Analog Scale (VAS)
  • Number
  • Mass
  • Length
  • Barcode
  • Calendar

In addition to the placeholders referring to a given question, Ethica also supports the following placeholders:

  • user_fname, user_lname, and user_name refer to the participant's first name, last name, and full name, respectively, as they provided to Ethica during the sign-up.
  • loop_value refers to the value of the current iteration of the loop for loop sections. You can read more about loop_value here.