Google Forms is a powerful tool to share forms and collect data, but for situations that require confidentiality, you’ll need to know how to make these documents anonymous.
So can you make a Google Form anonymous? The simple answer is yes! Whether you’re creating a new form or want to edit one that’s already been shared, you can easily make an anonymous survey.
In this article, we’ll teach you how to make Google Forms anonymous so the Form results won’t show names and provide tips that ensure your survey still effectively collects data.
Google Forms vs. Google Surveys
Because the terms “forms” and “surveys” are used interchangeably in this article, it’s important to note that Google Surveys was discontinued in November 2022. Surveys has effectively been replaced by Google Forms.
How to Make Google Forms Anonymous: Step-by-Step Guide
To create an anonymous survey in Google Forms, you’ll first have to ensure that your questions don’t require respondents to reveal any personal or sensitive data (e.g. name, address, contact information, gender). Either make these questions optional or don’t include them in your questionnaire.
Aside from your questions (more on that below), you should also disable Google Forms settings that could compromise a respondent’s anonymity.
1. Go to Google Forms. Create a new blank form or choose a template from the available options.
2. You can add your questions and edit your survey first. Otherwise, go ahead and navigate to the “Settings” tab.
3. Expand the “Responses” section under Settings. Make sure that the “Collect email addresses” option is turned off.
4. Under the same section, check that the “Limit to 1 response” option is turned off. Disabling this option allows people without a Google account to answer your survey (and ensures that Google Form responses are anonymous).
Note: If you need to limit the response to one per person, enable this option. However, this will affect the respondents’ anonymity.
How To Test an Anonymous Google Form
Now that your anonymous survey is finished, it’s time to test whether your Google Form survey accepts anonymous responses.
- Go to Google Forms and select the document.
- Click the “Send” icon at the top-right corner of your screen.
- Select the hyperlink option and copy the link to your survey, either by clicking the “Copy” button or selecting the link.
- Either open another browser or a new Google Chrome window in Incognito mode to make yourself anonymous on Google Forms. This will ensure that the account you used to create your survey is not signed in. After opening a new window, paste the copied link and go to your survey.
- The first indication of an anonymous survey is when a form can be submitted without requiring a user to sign in. Fill out the survey fields and submit your response.
- Return to the window where your Google account is signed in. Click the “Responses” tab to check the results.
- Verify that no personal information about the response has been collected. You can do so by checking the “Individual” tab.
How to Make Your Google Forms Responses Anonymous
Before sending out a Google Forms survey, make sure it’s anonymous by:
- Verifying that no identification tracks the respondents.
- Checking that no personal information is required.
- Questions requiring personal information (like a name or email addresses) shouldn’t be marked with an asterisk or required to submit your response.
- Providing a clear confidentiality statement that outlines that personal information won’t be shared.
- Limiting the personal information collected. If you still want to obtain unique and reliable results, you could consider asking for limited personal data (such as nicknames or gender).
- For certain forms, tracking responses through unique and anonymous identifiers (e.g. codes, numbers).
- Making sure that the survey link is secure. You can password-protect your form or limit access to specific individuals.
- Sharing your survey link on a trusted platform.
Pros and Cons of an Anonymous Google Forms Survey
Making a Google Form anonymous has its pros and cons. That means it’s essential to consider both before deciding whether an anonymous survey is the right choice for your data collection needs.
Pros of an Anonymous Google Forms Survey
- Possible increased response rates: Anonymity can encourage more people to answer surveys since they feel confident that their responses are confidential.
- Honest responses: Respondents may be more likely to give more candid responses if they feel like their identities are protected.
- Reduced bias: Anonymous surveys can also help respondents stay honest with their answers and feel less pressured to answer questions according to social norms or expectations.
- Privacy: By choosing not to collect personal information, the privacy of your respondents is respected. This is particularly important when handling sensitive topics.
- Improved data quality: Since respondents are more likely to answer more honestly and without pressure, anonymous surveys tend to provide more accurate and reliable data.
Cons of an Anonymous Google Forms Survey
Here are some of the reasons why you might reconsider making anonymous Google Forms:
- Reduced response rates: When done incorrectly, anonymous surveys can actually reduce response rates. Survey takers might be unmotivated to finish or provide valuable feedback – and that can affect the quality of your data.
- Difficulty in verifying data: Without personal information, it might be challenging to verify the accuracy and correctness of the data being collected.
- Difficulty in following up: With anonymous surveys, a follow-up might be difficult as you have no way to contact your respondents.
- Lack of accountability: Some respondents might not feel accountable when answering anonymous surveys, potentially answering with false or misleading information. This can, in turn, skew the results of your survey.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Makes a Google Form Anonymous?
Anonymous Google Form surveys collect responses without requiring the respondents to sign in to their Google accounts. These forms also don’t require personal information such as names, email addresses, etc.
Does Limiting Form Responses Affect Anonymity?
Limiting form responses to 1 per person would require your respondents to sign in with their Google account, decreasing the anonymity of a survey. One way to counter this is to turn the “Collect email addresses” toggle off in Google Form settings.
When Should You Make a Survey Anonymous?
Anonymous forms are useful when creating sensitive surveys (when the privacy of the respondents is the main priority).
What Are the Pros and Cons of Making an Anonymous Survey?
Anonymous surveys can increase response rates, honest responses, and privacy for sensitive data. However, it can also make it difficult to follow up on responses and verify the accuracy of the data collected.
While it takes a few steps, it’s easy to learn how to make Google Forms anonymous. As long as it doesn’t require the personal data of respondents (like names or contact information), your form can be considered anonymous.
Making an anonymous survey using Google Forms is a great way to protect the privacy of your respondents while still collecting valuable data. Ultimately, your decision should be based on the specific needs and the goals of your survey.
If you want an efficient way to translate your survey results to presentable data, check out how to connect Google Forms to Sheets and start seamlessly interpreting your survey data.