Importing External Data into Culture Counts

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In the majority of instances, users of the Impact & Insight Toolkit will collect their data via the Culture Counts platform: a link will be emailed out to audience members/bookers, or a 1:1 interview strategy will be implemented, using a tablet or computer to collect responses.

However, sometimes, there may be the need to collect paper responses or, in exceptional circumstances, responses might be collected via a different online platform. This article will get you up to speed on how to import your data from an external source into the Culture Counts platform, so that you can benefit from the reporting facilities available.

The Culture Counts platform stores exported survey data as comma-separated values files or “CSVs”. CSVs are a common way to store complex data and are the default format for exporting survey data across many platforms, including Culture Counts. CSVs can be opened and edited in most spreadsheet software, including Microsoft Excel and Numbers.

Below is a screenshot of a typical CSV file that you might download from Culture Counts. It looks very busy, but we will go through how to create a file such as this to enable you to import data to Culture Counts.

A typical Culture Counts CSV file

Preparing to Import From an External Source

Before you start, there are several important things to note.

Firstly, in order to import data into Culture Counts you will need to have a survey within your Toolkit account that has been set up with all the questions you want to import.

Secondly, all data collected externally to Culture Counts should be collected using the same type of question format as used in the survey in your account. For example, if your paper survey had a multiple-choice question, this should be reflected in the survey in your Toolkit account. This is critical to ensure the data can be imported correctly as well as ensuring your data is valid for use in Toolkit reports.

Once you have prepared the survey in Culture Counts that you want to import data to, you will need to:

  1. Access the Summary page of the survey you’re importing into
  2. Scroll down to ‘Data Imports’
  3. Click ‘Download data template’

The CSV import template is a CSV file containing all the questions included in your Culture Counts survey; this is where you will enter the data you wish to import. It looks slightly different from a normal survey results CSV in that it also contains a question ID row, which tells Culture Counts which questions it should associate the results with. It also does not include all the metadata that is saved when collected via Culture Counts.

Populating the Import Template

To populate the template, enter each response. Each respondent has their own row and each question has their own column, as shown in the screenshot below.

For example:

It is vital to ensure that each response is in the correct format for the question type.

For instance, all dimensions responses must be entered on a 0 – 1 scale, to 2 decimal places. Therefore ‘Hello’ and ’98’, highlighted in the example below, are not appropriate responses and would not be uploaded successfully.

If you are importing from a paper survey you would type in each response. It is strongly recommended that you read the guidance on using paper surveys to ensure that you are interpreting the results accurately.

A video to guide you through this has been made available on our YouTube channel, here.

If you are importing from another survey platform, you will need to export the data from there; then copy the response data across to the correct question column of your import template.

Support on using Microsoft Excel to format data appropriately is readily available online, but a good place to start would be on the Microsoft Support Page.

Whilst dimension responses are the most commonly required format, we know that you will be looking to upload other types of responses too. Below, please see accepted data formats for different question types:

Content TypeRequired FormatExample
Slider or DimensionNumber between 0 and 1, to 2 decimal places.


DateA date in DD/MM/YY format.




Text that matches the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ labels in your survey design.




A number adhering to the conditions shown in the survey design (minimum/maximum and allow/don’t allow decimals).




Text that matches the options available in your survey design. Optional “other” questions need to be entered both as a value in the dropdown column as well as any text they had entered for the associated text column.




Text that matches the options available in your survey design. Each selected option needs to be surrounded by single quotation marks, with the full response surrounded by square brackets. Optional “other” questions need to be entered both as a value in the multiple-choice column as well as any text they had entered for the associated text column.


[‘ice cream’, ‘cake’, ‘jelly’]
Short Text and Free Text


Text which will usually include words but can also include numbers, punctuation and other characters.


It was incredible – WOW!


A valid email address.



Once you’ve finished, remember to save the file as a CSV so that Culture Counts will recognise it when it comes to upload.


How to Import Data

Once you’ve populated your CSV with all the data you want to import, you can select “Upload data” on the summary page for the survey you want the data imported to. This will open up a new window allowing you to:

  1. Select the CSV you want to import
  2. Give the data a reference name
  3. Specify the collection method
  4. Specify the respondent type

If you’ve followed all the steps correctly then you should see a successful import message and you’ll be able to see your data when you reload the page.

If there is any issue with the import, Culture Counts will show an error message next to the data.

Dealing with Errors

Errors can occur for a variety of reasons, such as there being a mismatch in the question format or questions in the CSV not existing in the survey you are trying to import to. For more details on how to solve the issue, you can click the “View details” link to see where the system is encountering errors.

You can return to the CSV file in Excel or Numbers to correct the error.


If the error persists or you are unsure of how to fix the error, please get in touch for more help at


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The information on this page was last updated on 19 January, 2021.