Retrieving quality data through surveys involves a whole lot, from the selection of the right participants to survey design, to the mode of administering the surveys, and lots more.

Quality surveys and quality data collection is best achieved via a  Survey Quality Framework Checklist, a documented guide to help achieve great results.

This post will discuss the SQAF checklist’s applications, benefits, and limitations.

What is the SQAF checklist? 

The Survey Quality Assessment Framework (SQAF) checklist is a list following a sequential format addressing the steps that would be adopted to guarantee quality survey results.

The SQAF checklist poses questions on various aspects of the survey process, and It implements verification, documentation, and systems implementation to eliminate the chances of errors and incomplete information. 

It goes a step further to ensure the quality of research projects by creating a framework for completion while ensuring vital tasks are addressed. It involves a list of the following to ensure quality surveys.


Evaluation Checklist

  • This focuses on addressing survey administration and application and the following.
  • Identification of survey purpose
  • Craft research questions
  • Highlights survey variables
  • Identifies the best method for answering research questions
  • Selection of survey administration method
  • Establishes Timelines 
  • Vet’s research team qualifications and suitability for administering surveys and analyzing results

Survey Checklist

This ensures that the survey respondents possess the ability and the necessary information to respond to the survey questions utilizing the following steps as a guide.

  • Identifies the survey respondents
  • Decide on how much of the target audience would be involved in the survey
  • Set appropriate response rate
  • Decide the mode of administration in terms of anonymous or identifiable respondents.
  • Figure out how non-responsive respondents will be managed
  • Find out the survey audience population
  • Determine who and how the surveys would be administered
  • Decide on how the results would be used or treated


Recruitment & Promotions Checklist

This checklist helps to create appropriate marketing and promotion plans for the survey, using the following steps.

  • Determine the appropriate channels for informing the selected respondents for the research
  • Set a budget
  • Get approvals
  • Measure the results of the marketing activities

Compensation and Incentives  

This determines how and if the respondents of the survey would be compensated.

  • Determine the mode of compensation
  • Determine what milestones of completion would be eligible for rewards
  • Ensure compensation is within the regulated guidelines laid down by appropriate authorities
  • Have a record of respondents who received compensation


Survey Question Guidelines & Flow Checklist

This checklist aims to ensure that responses are coded appropriately in terms of demography and other relevant parameters.

  • Decide whether demographic questions are required.
  • Check to see if demographic information can be matched from other sources
  • Ensure that demographic questions are in line with current terminology
  • Ask respondents questions based on the verified information they possess
  • Avoid ambivalent questions
  • Avoid bias in survey questions
  • Inclusion of a progress bar
  • Open-ended comment box to capture information not addressed in the survey


Sample Questions to Include in the SQAF Checklist

When considering questions to include in your SQAF checklist, the questions can be outlined under two categories;

Preparation and Design

Do the questionnaires have check questions?

Is the length of the questionnaire appropriate?

Is the survey administered with a representative sample?

Are the questions and answers easy to comprehend and straightforward?


Will the survey be administered using the techniques the respondents are familiar with?

Has the questionnaire been double-checked?

Is there a criterion to determine the accuracy of the proposed evaluation and analyses?

Are the stakeholders and beneficiaries briefed on the purpose of the survey?

Are the responses a combination of other tools of information and analysis employed by the evaluators?

Is there a monitoring and control process for interviewers?

Is there an adequate training plan and session?


Completing the SQAF checklist

Who Should Complete SQAF? 

The decision on who should complete an SQAF checklist depends on the subject and purpose of the research. Ideally, identified subject matter experts should work hand in hand with research specialists and the beneficiaries to adopt a holistic approach to creating a checklist.

That way, the checklist would inculcate questions that speak to the subject and the appropriate research questions for the survey in a way that satisfies the purpose.

When to Complete SQAF? 

The SQAF checklist helps to control and maintain the quality of surveys. Therefore the SQAF checklist should be completed and finalized before the survey questions are created and administered. This aims to remove errors and facilitate the collection of quality responses.  

What Can Be Expected From Completing the SQAF Checklist?

After completing the SQAF checklist, the next step is the implementation of the survey based on the parameters highlighted in the checklist through a project delivery plan to implement the SQAF checklist.

  • Project Delivery Plan

This plan identifies the standards, parameters, and milestone schedules and puts together the team to implement the checklist’s who, when, and how steps.

The project plan would detail the statement and scope of work required.

It would streamline the deliverable outlined in the checklist.

Outline the form of technology that would be used to carry out the task and statements of safety procedures for fieldwork.

Scheduling budgets and milestones.

  • Adherence to the Standards Created in the SQAF Checklist

At this step, 3 established standards forms should be adopted to implement the SQAF checklist. The first is the regulated or industry-required standard, the beneficiary of the client-required standard, and your research organization standard. A melting point for all the standard levels should be adhered to.

  • Resource Management

A vital part of adhering to the checklist is the assignment of tasks and responsibilities to team members, colleagues, and vendors. Managing these elements outlined and enforcing compliance is a huge task. It is one thing to have the SQAF checklist. However, implementation is a huge step.

To do this successfully, there should be a complete SQAF briefing before the commencement of the guidelines set in the checklist.

Most importantly, an agile approach should be adopted to meet milestones.

  • Tracking and Documentation

The most important step in the SQAF checklist process is tracking to ensure that all the steps outlined in the checklist are implemented; otherwise, it would mess up the survey process.

This is especially so because the survey process would involve expenses and incur a cost. Hence there is a need to track the cost accrued and ensure alignment with the budget and the purpose for which the money or resources were earmarked.

Also, this tracking should be done with the relevant documentation for the purpose of reporting.

Advantages of the SQAF Checklist.

For every data collection process, the results are dependent on the input.

The quality of the survey results depends on the proper administration of the SQAF checklist. 

To this end, the advantages of the SQAF checklist are outlined below.

  • It helps the researchers conform to the standard set of guides for the survey administration
  • The guidelines in the SQAF checklist usually highlight the following: 
  • Quality of standards for each aspect of the survey
  • Ensures Quality assurance
  • Outlines the processes that gauge the impact of quality assurance standards on the survey results and procedures for improving the relevance and effectiveness of the entire process.
  • The SQAF checklist proffers all possible relationships and impacts from which a specific assignment can be selected.
  • It helps people tasked with creating a survey identify what to look for when assessing or scoping a research project.
  • It helps to measure the progress of the survey process, as every step taken is ticked off the checklist.
  • The SQAF checklist can aid in avoiding costly errors that could lead to client dissatisfaction that would negate the whole survey process.
  • It ensures customer satisfaction, especially in cases where the research survey is being conducted on behalf of a client, as the SQAF checklist covers all the required steps that would guarantee a wholesome customer experience.
  • The SQAF checklist opens the lines of communication as all the steps that would be taken are documented, and any missed steps can be pointed out by both parties, beneficiaries, administrators, and stakeholders.
  • It creates a culture of quality for your research results as the presence of the SQAF checklist depicts to all and sundry that quality is your watchword. That way, everyone would automatically want to align, as the checklist makes it easy to identify non-conformity to the standard.

Limitations of the SQAF Checklist

  • The SQAF checklist is descriptive and includes impacts at various stages in the research process. However, there is no quantitative guide to measure the extent of the impact it wields on the survey result.
  • There is no room for modifications or proactiveness as every step is clearly outlined with no room for initiative.
  • It is time-consuming, and doing it effectively involves time and resources.
  • Using the SQAF checklist usually delays the survey process. Unlike other methods which would be implemented speedily, the surveys guided by this framework are usually delayed because until all the parameters listed in the checklist are ticked off, the survey cannot be administered.
  • With the SQAF checklist, it is easy to assume all grounds are covered, and this implies that if there is an omission on the checklist, it would not be addressed. Also, these assumptions might cause costly omissions as the SQAF checklist is usually treated as the holy grail when preparing for research surveys.


The essence of the SQAF checklist is to provide support that would improve the quality of any research process. A survey is a costly investment that involves multiple parties, and the results can greatly influence a vital decision. With the SQAF checklist in place, the errors in data are minimal, and the survey implementation follows acceptable standards.

With every process, there are always advantages and limitations. However, the SQAF checklist is a good place to start when conducting surveys, as the checklist is read and ticked off as progress is made.

  • Angela Kayode-Sanni
  • on 8 min read


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