“a unique empirical and linguistically-informed approach to ... the nature and regularities of the surface word patterns of a text”


OurSurveySays is an online service for the analysis of open-text survey questions using Corpus Linguistic techniques. We are currently developing the tool in conjunction with planners and strategists at BCU and believe it can have a far-ranging impact in Higher Education.

The UK Higher Education (HE) sector gathers large quantities of student feedback via surveys. The most critical of these is arguably the National Student Survey (NSS), the results of which influence rankings in university league tables. Institutions are also developing their own internal questionnaires and the number of nationwide HE surveys is set to increase (e.g. PTES, PRES, UKES). As well as quantitative questions, many of these surveys include open-text questions in which students are free to express their own views and priorities. Responses number in the thousands per institution, however, this valuable data cannot be properly explored due to the lack of suitable tools and the prohibitive time and cost of large-scale manual analysis.

OurSurveySays is a combination of data-driven text analysis methods developed in linguistics and an easy-to-use visualisation front-end. The core technology has been developed from research into how words interact (across subject domains and in close proximity to each other) to enable key themes and topics to be extracted from large text collections. Via the interface, analysts can drill down into these themes and observe relations between them.

The software is in development and is currently being trialled within our own institution. It has become a key tool in the Planning and Performance Department (PPD) for use in discussions with University Executive, informing intervention and enhancement activities. PPD have also used it in support of programme teams, professional services and the Students' Union, arranging discussions that centre around the survey analysis.

If you are interested in learning more then get in touch with us.