What is the difference between anonymous and confidential survey responses?

For purposes of surveys, it is helpful to define the terms “anonymous” and “confidential.” Anonymous means not identified by name. Confidential means private, secret, not universally available or known only to a select few.

With a benchmark survey, for example, a general counsel may request that her company name not be listed as a participant. That means anonymity. It is assumed that the specific data about the law department, such as how much her department spent on external counsel in 2009, will not be disclosed. That means confidentiality. All benchmark surveys should preserve confidentiality of data; a few participants want to remain anonymous.

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