Here at Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS), we manage our own research panel called ViewPoint. ViewPoint is comprised of members who are willing to participate in various types of research such as focus groups, surveys, in-depth interviews, and mystery shopping. Typically, members of research panels, like ViewPoint, are rewarded for their participation which makes it important for RMS to ensure ViewPoint members are truthful, highly-engaged, and sincere.

Man holding a magnifying glass over his eye

Here are 5 quality assurance tips for research panels:

  1. Welcome new members

As the RMS ViewPoint Panel Coordinator, I place welcome calls and send emails to all new members on a regular basis. This is a great way to initiate two-way communication between RMS and our panel members.  This is also a simple way to ensure that the people who are joining ViewPoint understand what a research panel is, and know where to find resources for more information. Most importantly the welcome calls and emails set a friendly standard for ViewPoint members by letting them know they have a real person they can contact with any future questions or inquiries.

  1. Check for duplicate members

The demographics of ViewPoint are extremely important to RMS. This makes it imperative that the panel does not have duplicate members which could skew data. RMS regularly combs through member data to check for duplicate email addresses, names, and phone numbers to ensure each individual record is unique.

  1. Use filter questions

When taking a survey, it is important to pay close attention to what the question is asking. A red herring or quality control question is an easy way for market research professionals to check that respondents are paying attention and not simply speeding through the survey. These types of questions can be added anywhere in a survey, but are preferable in the middle after the respondent is fully engaged in the survey. An example of a simple quality control question in an online survey is, “Please answer this question by choosing response #3” or, “Please select strongly agree in the chart to the right.” Surveys with responses to this question other than those indicated can be removed from analysis. More importantly these panel members can be flagged and their case data will be reviewed closely in the future. Ultimately, if the respondent continues to fail quality control tests, he or she will be removed from ViewPoint.

  1. Check for straightliners

Market research professionals should also check for participants who respond to every question with the same answer. For example, if a survey prompts respondents to rate different aspects of their satisfaction on a 5-point scale, with “1” being strongly dissatisfied and “5” being strongly satisfied, extra attention should be paid to those who answer the same number for every question. If this occurs, analysts should review responses to other questions to see if they vary, review the time to complete the survey, etc. Although answering “4” on all of the grid questions could be a valid sequence it does raise a red flag that needs to be investigated. After flagging this member, their responses should be reviewed in future surveys.

  1. Check for speeders

Similar to straightliners, response times should be reviewed for each survey completed to ensure it is feasible.  For example, a respondent should be flagged if a 10 minute survey only takes two minutes to complete. Analysts should review response times for this member in future surveys.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our market research services please contact the Director of Business Development, Sandy Baker at or by calling 1-866-567-5422.