Thing 19: Online scheduling and polling

In the last Thing we looked at tools for collaborating with others online. It’s a lot easier to get everyone together online than in the real world, but it can still take a lot of organising. But fear not! There are tools for this too. Here we will look at some easy tools for running scheduling polls and other simple surveys.

One of the most popular scheduling tools is Doodle. Doodle is free, easy to use and doesn’t require any registration (although it offers added features to registered users). For this Thing, please explore Doodle and, if you can, give it a try for scheduling something.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Go to
  2. Click on the ‘Create a Doodle’ button.
  3. Follow instructions for Steps 1-4, each time clicking ‘continue’ to get to the next page. Decide on the dates that you are free and the time slots within each date that you are free and add them in the chart.
  4. At Step 4 you need to decide whether you want to send an email to your colleagues yourself or whether you want Doodle to do this.
  5. If you have chosen to send the poll out yourself then don’t type the email address in at Step 4; check your emails from Doodle and follow the clear instructions in them.
  6. Send the link out and wait for responses!


Surprisingly few of the inhabitants found themselves free for Sauron’s birthday party
Photo by The Roaming Platypus on Unsplash


Exploring further

You can integrate Doodle with other online tools, including your Microsoft Outlook calendar, Google calendar or iCal; Doodle can sync meetings you set up with these calendars and update based on poll results. Doodle’s calendar integration page provides more info on how to set these up.

Doodle isn’t the only online scheduling tool, although it is one of the most popular. You might want to explore other options such as Meet-o-Matic or Scheduly.

If you’ve had a proper nose about, you will have noticed that you can use Doodle for more than scheduling dates. Imagine you’re holding a dinner party and want to know what the majority of guests would prefer to eat. Can you think of a more research-appropriate use of this function?

And still more…

If you’re looking to gather a bit more information from your participants, you could try using Google Forms. Similarly to other survey tools such as Survey Monkey, Google Forms allows you to write questionnaires and send them to your target participants. This can be anything from a simple request about dietary preferences, up to a heavy-weight survey with a mixture of multiple-choice, free-text and linear scale questions. The upside to Google forms is that unlike many providers you can use all the fancy tools without a paid membership – including graphing your results, downloading your results into a spreadsheet, and customising the look of the survey. One downside to consider is that you will need to open a gmail account (if you don’t have one already); also bear in mind that (as with any platform) you should not use it to share or gather sensitive or personal information. A research project, for example, may require additional levels of confidentiality protection. Google forms is part of the Google Docs suite, which we’ll look at shortly…


“I’m gonna make you a diary appointment you can’t refuse…”
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Author: rdpsurrey

Providing personal and professional development opportunities to researchers at the University of Surrey.

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