How to create anonymous surveys with Google Forms

Learn how to make your Google Forms’ anonymous with our step-by-step guide, as well as limitation you might face with Google Forms, and how to overcome them.

Online surveys are a great way to get feedback quickly and easily. One simple way to create surveys is by using a free online form builder like Google Forms.

To make your survey more effective, especially if you’re surveying coworkers or asking for potentially negative feedback, it’s best to gather anonymous responses. Unfortunately, doing so in Google Forms can be a little tricky

But don't worry, we're here to help! This post will provide all the answers you need and guide you through the process of making anonymous surveys in Google Forms.

What is an anonymous survey?

An anonymous survey is a survey in which the identity of the participants is not recorded or shared with the survey administrator.

Anonymous surveys are designed to protect the privacy of the participants and to gather honest and candid feedback without the influence of bias based on the identity of the participant.

Anonymous surveys can be conducted in various ways such as online, by phone, mail or in person, but in all cases, the participant's identity is not recorded.

Important: While the participant's identity is not recorded, some personal information might be collected such as IP address, browser, location, etc.

Benefits of anonymous surveys

There are a few benefits to anonymity for both the form owner and the form participant. The owner gains honest and unfiltered data, while the respondent can answer without fear of blowback.

Making your form anonymous helps you gain more responses, get more accurate data, and puts respondents at ease. Here are just some of the benefits:

  • Honest feedback: Participants may be more likely to provide honest and candid responses if they feel their anonymity is protected.
  • Reduce bias: Anonymous surveys eliminate the possibility of bias based on the identity of the participant, such as demographic or social factors.
  • Encourage participation: Some participants may be hesitant to participate in a survey if they feel their responses will be linked to their identity. Anonymous surveys can help increase participation rates.
  • Protect privacy: Anonymous surveys protect the privacy of participants, ensuring that their responses will not be linked to their identity and cannot be used to discriminate against them.
  • Greater accuracy: Anonymous surveys can be a more accurate representation of a population's views or experiences, as people may be more willing to answer sensitive questions.
  • Gather more data: Anonymous surveys are more likely to gather more data, enabling you to get a bigger sample size and more accurate results.

Potential challenges of anonymous surveys

While anonymous surveys have many benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider:

  1. Lack of personal context: Without identifying information, it can be difficult to understand the context behind a participant's responses or to follow up for more information.
  2. Limited ability to verify responses: Without identifying information, it may be difficult to verify the accuracy of a participant's responses or to ensure that they meet the survey's criteria for participation.
  3. Difficulty in tracking progress: Without identifying information, it can be difficult to track the progress of individual participants or to measure changes over time.
  4. Can't give credit: Anonymous surveys can't give credit to those who have provided valuable insights, it can also make it difficult to reward participants.
  5. Limited ability to segment data: Without identifying information, it may be difficult to segment the data and analyze it based on specific demographics or characteristics.
  6. Limited ability to contact participants: Without identifying information, it may be difficult to contact participants for follow-up or to ask them to participate in future surveys.

When to use anonymous surveys

Anonymous surveys are best used when the goal is to gather honest and candid feedback without the influence of bias based on the identity of the participant.

They're also useful for sensitive topics, or when participants may be hesitant to participate if their identity is known (say, providing feedback on their workplace).

Additionally, anonymous surveys can be used to protect the privacy of participants and ensure that their responses will not be used to discriminate against them.

Important: Regular surveys are more appropriate when the goal is to gather identifying information about the participant, such as demographic data or contact information.

How to make Google Forms anonymous

Now you know the circumstances in which to use an anonymous survey, we'll look at how to do it in Google Forms.

1. Create a blank form

Head to Google Forms and open up a new blank form or choose from one of their pre-built templates. You can label your survey as you like, and add any description in the text box.

2. Add your questions

By default, there should be a question field open. Go ahead and fill it out to create your first survey question.

Choose your answer option from the dropdown menu. In general, try to avoid using too many open feedback questions. People are busy, and if there’s a way to ask your question as a one-click response, like a linear scale or a multiple-choice grid, that tends to be the way to go.

That being said, open-text responses are great for gathering in-depth feedback, so don’t neglect those types of questions altogether.

Important: To keep your data quality and response rate high, design your survey with roughly 70% one-click questions, and only 30% open feedback. Better yet, consider making the open feedback questions optional when you can.

3. Configure your form settings

Navigating to Google Forms settings menu to make your form anonymous
(Image Source: Google Forms)

Head to the settings menu at the top of the Google Form. This will open up a menu of sharing settings.

To make your form anonymous, uncheck the box next to “collect all email addresses.” While you’re there, go ahead and uncheck the box next to “limit to 1 response” as well.

You can also jump into the Responses tab and choose to have your answers sent to Google Sheets for easy access down the line.

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4. Preview your form

Before you set it live, you can preview your form by clicking on the eye icon at the top of the screen.

To make sure your form really is anonymous, click the send button and share the form with yourself via direct link. Fill it out and submit it as if you're a participant, then, jump back into Google Forms and open the survey.

There should be a new response. To see it, click on the Responses tab and go over the results. As long as there is no identifying information there, you know your anonymous survey is good to go!

Making professional anonymous surveys

If you're looking for forms that are more professional, and intuitive and require far fewer steps to set up, give Paperform a try. With almost half a million forms built, Paperform is flexible to any form requirement, anonymous or not.

Unlike Google Forms, Paperform makes creating dynamic, branded anonymous surveys easy. We've got over 25+ field types to choose from (including matrix and ranking fields) and all the design options and robust features you might need (like powerful conditional logic and advanced calculations).

Pair that with an integration library of over 3,000 direct and Zapier integrations, and you've got yourself a survey builder that can handle whatever you throw at it— and look great doing it.

When you choose a Paperform to make surveys, you also get access to a digital Swiss army knife of tools designed to automate more of your menial tasks. From sending automatic emails to organising data, Paperform has it handled.

It’s a one-stop shop for small business owners, solopreneurs, or anyone looking for ways to collect data and streamline everyday processes.

Make more professional anonymous surveys with Paperform

Give it a go yourself and see how much easier survey building can be.
Create an anonymous survey with Paperform