What still works in Qualtrics free accounts (3/20/2016)

In the last few months Qualtrics has begun handicapping its free accounts. For a couple of years they were the best deal in online research: the Qualtrics system, very few restrictions, and a price tag of $0.  Of course I should have known that the days of wine and data wouldn’t last forever. They appear to be over.

So, to save other researchers a little time (assuming this post shows up in Google), here is what my students and I have currently experienced. Of course, our experiences might not be representative, and things might change overnight (as they seem to have done recently).

Restrictions on Qualtrics “free accounts” (or “trial accounts”) AFAIK as of March 20, 2016:

  • No Downloading Data. This is the absolutely most important thing: newly-created accounts, starting a relatively short time ago (a couple of months?) are do  not allow download. You can look at your data only through Qualtrics’ “reports” or summary stats on a per-variable basis. Or that’s what I think the situation is. But no downloading means no correlations, no t-tests, no regression analysis, no ANOVA, no trend analysis, etc.
  • No Importing Survey Files. So if you have a survey file from a colleague, or a previous account, you can’t import it into Qualtrics, unless you have a paid account. That kinda bites.
  • No Viewing, Creating, or Managing Panels Linked to Collaborated Surveys. I am a “collaborator” (with my free account) on a multi-survey project housed in a colleague’s full account. The survey uses panels and validation. I apparently have no access to that.
  • Only one survey can be active at a time. But that was always a free account limitation; no change.
  • No Panel Data. Again, this was always a free account limitation, AFAICR.

As of now, I don’t know of any limitations on number of responses, number of surveys you can create in your account (as long as only one is active), etc.

It’s a little painful to me to see Qualtrics going in this direction, though it’s predictable and probably very good for their bottom line. Nearly a decade ago I was evangelizing for Qualtrics at my former university, singing the company’s praises, including the reasonable pricing for academics. Now, the “special plan for academics” is 1000 responses for $500. That probably doesn’t even register on some people’s radar. For me, however, doing research at a university with fairly little research support, it’s painful. We usually get about $600 per year for professional conferences–which, of course, covers about 1/3 of the costs of a national conference. Universities all over the US are in varying stages of budget crisis, so this situation is pretty common.

I think Qualtrics has realized it’s the dominant product right now, and has decided to charge what it can, because it can. Sadly, this leaves some academics out in the cold.

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