Quality of reporting web-based and non-web-based survey studies: What authors, reviewers and consumers should consider

PLoS One. 2018 Jun 18;13(6):e0194239. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194239. eCollection 2018.


Background: Several influential aspects of survey research have been under-investigated and there is a lack of guidance on reporting survey studies, especially web-based projects. In this review, we aim to investigate the reporting practices and quality of both web- and non-web-based survey studies to enhance the quality of reporting medical evidence that is derived from survey studies and to maximize the efficiency of its consumption.

Methods: Reporting practices and quality of 100 random web- and 100 random non-web-based articles published from 2004 to 2016 were assessed using the SUrvey Reporting GuidelinE (SURGE). The CHERRIES guideline was also used to assess the reporting quality of Web-based studies.

Results: Our results revealed a potential gap in the reporting of many necessary checklist items in both web-based and non-web-based survey studies including development, description and testing of the questionnaire, the advertisement and administration of the questionnaire, sample representativeness and response rates, incentives, informed consent, and methods of statistical analysis.

Conclusion: Our findings confirm the presence of major discrepancies in reporting results of survey-based studies. This can be attributed to the lack of availability of updated universal checklists for quality of reporting standards. We have summarized our findings in a table that may serve as a roadmap for future guidelines and checklists, which will hopefully include all types and all aspects of survey research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Mining*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Internet*

Grant support

This study was supported in part by a "Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B)" (16H05844, 2016–2019 for Nguyen Tien Huy) from Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.