Skip to the content.

Collecting Data with Google Forms

Created by Zach Francis
Maintained by LEADR under the direction of Alice Lynn McMichael

Last Updated: 3/2/2021


Google Forms provide a convenient way to collect data through online surveys. All you need is a Google account and a plan. Since Google has thorough documentation on how to create forms, this handout will focus on best practices for creating surveys and using those results.

Creating a Google Form

  1. To start creating google forms, go to
  2. Google will ask you to sign into a google account, if you haven’t already.
  3. From the forms page, Click on the Google plus icon. This will take you to a new Google Form where you can begin making your survey.

Basics of Working in Google Forms

Google Forms allows you to ask a variety of survey questions, embed images and video, and format the layout of your form. These tools provide a lot of flexibility for creating surveys.

Best Practices for Creating Surveys

When creating surveys in any setting, every researcher should think about their objectives and the best way to get data for those objectives. In that regard, there are some best practices to think about when creating surveys.

Inform Your Participants

From the outset, it is important that you are transparent with your participants. Inform them about the purpose of your research, how their data will be used and the general background of the project. In Google Forms, you can provide information through an introductory section before participants take your survey. This will allow for their informed consent before filling out any data.

Establish Clear and Feasible Objectives

Think about what you are trying to accomplish with this survey, and tailor your questions accordingly. Also be careful to scale your objective to something that’s manageable.

Format Carefully

Make sure that your survey flows in a way that will not turn participants away. Here are some general tips:

Ask the Right Questions

Besides asking questions relevant to your objective, you should take care to ask questions that will be as unbiased as possible. The following sections tackle different ways to avoid bias.

Direct Questions

Ask Direct Questions that the participant has to provide an answer for. Yes or No (also True or False) questions tend to bias towards Yes.

Controlled Vocabularies

Controlled vocabularies are great for questions with a finite set of possible answers. A controlled vocabulary provides possible answers as a list, multiple choice or some other format. Using questions with a controlled vocabulary will provide you with data that is easier to read and quantitatively analyzed. But take care to give participants an “out” (an “other” option) if they have an answer different from what you’ve provided.

Avoid Bias

We will always have our own biases, but taking steps to mitigate as much bias as possible is what makes a good researcher. In addition to asking the right questions, there are other steps you can take to avoid bias in surveys.

Keep your Tone Neutral

You can avoid asking leading questions by avoiding words like “amazing”, “extreme”, “despicable”, and other phrases which put an opinion in the question.

Randomize Shuffle Order

There is an inclination to pick the first answer when given multiple options. Shuffling the order of options helps mitigate this bias. Follow these steps to shuffle answers in Google Forms:

  1. Go to the bottom of your multiple options questions (multiple choice, checklist, etc.)
  2. Click the three vertical dots icon at the bottom-right
  3. Select Shuffle options order
    • This will shuffle the options you have entered, but leave google options like “other..” at the bottom.



Google Forms Documentation


By the end of this handout, you should be able to create and edit a Google Form for the purposes of collecting survey data. For a more in-depth look at the tools that Google Forms has to offer, check out their documentation.

Creating surveys requires careful planning and a critical eye towards what sort of effect your survey is going to have on how your participants. In order to receive good data, you have to ask good questions.

Return to LEADR’s Resources list