Briteback survey tool – by researchers for researchers

Do you still send out surveys by regular mail and ask participants to fill it in on paper and then send it back in a pre-stamped envelope? In some settings, this is still the way to go, but not for much longer. The future is here and it’s not going away.

Web-based surveys, adapted to the relatively small screen size of a smartphone, have many advantages. Such surveys can be sent out as web links in emails or text messages. The cost for sending surveys and reminders is almost reduced to zero, and the response data you get is easily imported directly in analysis tools such as Excel. Using web-based surveys adapted to smartphones also give unprecedented possibilities for longitudinal studies with frequent repeated measurements, with participants on the run.

The Briteback survey tool has been developed in collaboration with researchers at the Medical Faculty of Linköping University in Sweden. Briteback, the company, is itself a spin-off from the Computer Science Department at Linköping University, where the Briteback co-founder Johan Åberg was an Assistant Professor in Computer Science and Interaction Design, with a focus on empirical research.

We believe this background puts us in a good position for catering to the evolving needs of the research community.

Mobile first – the modern way

Smartphones are quickly becoming ubiquitous in our modern society. Whether your study population consists of Kenyan elite runners or Manhattan bankers, they all have smartphones. A recent analysis by the Swedish Telecom giant Ericsson, published June 3rd, 2015, summarized the status for 2015 in terms of number of smartphone subscriptions, worldwide, and gave a projection for 2020. The analysis leaves no room for doubt that smartphones are rapidly penetrating also the developing countries.

The Briteback survey tool has been designed Mobile First. This means that it is designed with the smartphone in focus, and later adapted to also work well on larger screens, rather than working the other way around which is much more common. Answering a survey on a smartphone has many advantages over surveys sent by mail or adapted to traditional desktop computers. For example, having the possibility to answer the survey while sitting on a commuter transport, or while waiting for the kids to finish their after-school activities, increases the likelihood on continued study participation. It can also be beneficial to be able to get a follow-up survey to reach a participant in a timely manner, e.g. when performing longitudinal studies with people on the go.

Reaching participants by SMS, email, or both

When setting up a research study in Briteback, you can choose to enter contact information of the study participants as email addresses of cell phone numbers, or both. Having the possibility to reach a participant by their cell phone number can be critical, especially when targeting younger populations that may not yet have an email address (or if they have one they may not check it regularly).

When a survey is initiated, the Briteback survey tool will send out invitations to all the contact means provided. Of course, if a participant receives an invitation on both email and as a smartphone text message the Briteback survey tool makes sure that the participant only answers once.

Sub-questions and branches? No problem!

A sub-question is a question that is inserted in a survey based on the answer to the previous question or statement. This gives you the possibility to tailor the questionnaire to the respondent without cluttering the survey display with all possible options in advance. The sub questions are displayed only as an effect of the respondent having selected a certain response option.

Set up everything in advance

A major advantage with the Briteback survey tool it that a study can be set up in its entirety in advance. Once the actual survey has been created, just select a participant list, and set up the date and time when the survey is to be sent out. Add an invite text and you’re set to go.

You can also set up reminders. These are only sent out to the participants that haven’t already answered.

Data analysis

The survey data is exported to excel-format, which means that all the power of excel in terms of analysis and presentation tools are at your fingertips. And of course, it is possible to use the export facilities from excel to get the data into other formats that you need.

Ethical data management – self-hosting

Are you using Google Docs or other cloud-based survey tools for conducting your empirical research? There are many advantages with cloud-based data management, but there are also risks involved. And when it comes to getting ethics approval for a research study, there is a trend towards strict regulations of collected data in terms of how data is managed.

These days, self-hosting is the only really reliable option if you want to be certain that you have full control of your research data, and in the long can be certain to uphold the high ethical standards the research community has come to expect.

With the Briteback survey tool, you have the option of hosting the data at your university. Briteback is packaged in a way that makes it very simple to set up and maintain.

Ready-made standard surveys included

To facilitate your life as a researcher, the Briteback survey tool includes several standard surveys that can easily be selected and used for data collection. The standard surveys are sorted by research area, which makes them easy to find.

If you have a published survey instrument that you want to include as a standard survey in Briteback, send an email to We’ll be happy to help you out. Please make sure to include a reference to the research article where the survey has been published.

Plan and discuss research studies directly in Briteback

Briteback is not just a survey tool. It’s a complete messaging platform with the possibility to integrate email and calendars. The messaging part of Briteback is based on the team concept. A team is simply a group of collaborating people. It could be a research project, where the team members are the researchers and other collaborators involved in the project. A team could also be a research group, including researchers, PhD and Master-level students as well as administrators.

You can set up any number of teams, and have one team for your research group, and one for a particular project. You can even have course teams, dedicated to a particular course, where the students and other teachers in the course are invited. This can be a great way to provide effective teaching with high quality.

A team is centered around a set of messaging channels. A channel is a chat room dedicated to discussions on a particular topic. Channels can be public, private, or direct channels between two persons. Public channels can be seen by everyone on the team, and people can join and leave as they like. Private channels are invisible for all except the channel members. Direct channels exist as default between all members in a team.

Briteback also has built-in voice/video communication, that can be used for meetings e.g. with distributed project members. Briteback allows internal as well as external phone calls at no costs – and all around the world!

Briteback also has powerful power-ups that let you integrate your email accounts and calendars directly in Briteback.

Additional services

Do you have special needs, or perhaps a really complicated research design? We can help you set up your research study in a way that fits your needs, including management of reminders, follow-ups and all incoming data. Contact us at to discuss the possibilities.

Do you need a special feature to be included in the Briteback survey tool? Perhaps the possibility to enter free-text responses by recording voice input in a smartphone? Or why not include a help function in the survey that gives the respondent the possibility to ask questions about the meaning of a certain survey statement or question? With the Briteback technology platform, almost everything is possible, just contact us at

Do you want to go with the self-hosted version of the Briteback survey tool, but do not know how to proceed? We can help you talk to your IT-department and make a suitable arrangement so that you can host your own data. Again, just contact us at

Get access to trial version

Contact for getting access to a trial version of the Briteback survey tool.

You can also send an email to if you have any questions. We are looking forward to helping you to get the most out of your research studies.

Happy hunting!

More in #collaboration

Automate Longitudinal Data Collection

Read more

More in #collaboration

GDPR means the end of internal email

Read more