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Cross-quotas and independent quotas

On this page you’ll find an an example showing how the same survey with the same quota-conditions can be defined with independent quotas (non-interlocked) and cross-quotes (interlocked).


Around 600 elderly smartphone users should be surveyed. Half should be female and the other half male. Additionally, each of the following age-groups should include a third of the participants: age 50-59, age 60-69 and age 70+.

Survey Screener:

Firstly, the information needed for quota management must be collected. This should be done in the first part of the questionnaire, which is called the screener. For our example, we need three questions: one relating to gender; one relating to age; and one relating to smartphone use. These will be the initial survey questions seen by the respondent.

Screener questions for quota

The quota check works automatically. It immediately checks as soon as the last question from the screener is answered.

Independent quotas (non-interlocked)

In this version, independent quotas will be separately set for each group, which differs from the cross quota. In our example, we need 300 male and 300 female respondents; 200 respondents with an age between 50-59 years, 200 respondents with an age between 60-69 and 200 respondents with an age of 70+. In Survalyzer, these quotas need to be set like this:

independent quotas

Screen-out with independent quotas

The initial position describes who should be surveyed. So by default, you also know who should not be surveyed. In our example, these are participants who are younger than 50 years old and those who don’t use a smartphone. To exclude these participants from this survey, we simply give them the status “screen-out” and forward them to a screen-out page.

With independent quotas, each participant can fit into several quotas or just one. Due to this, you can’t connect the screen-out to the quota. For independent quotas, the screen-out has to be defined inside of the survey. This is possible with a URL-forwarding after the last screener-question.

Screenout in survey

Quota overview in independent quotas

The quote overview is on the “Build”page within the survey settings. When the survey begins, it looks like this:

quota overview

As the independent quotas are set to two different questions, there are not 600 but 1,200 participants as the base (the sum of all independent quotas).

If one participant, for example a 65-year old, female, smartphone user, fills out the questionnaire, all quotas where this participant fits into will be incremented by one – gender and being aged 60 to 69. So the participant will be counted twice.

The difference between the two “quota full” options when using independent quotas

When quotas are defined, it’s possible to choose the option “If any quota matching the participant is full, flag the interview as ‘quota full’”.  For example, when this option is chosen, only 300 women can participate in the survey, even if the quota for age is not full. When all quotas are full, exactly 600 respondents will have completed the questionnaire.

When the option “If all quotas matching the participant are full, flag the interview as ‘quota full’” is chosen, it’s possible to have more than 300 women completing the survey, if the age quota is not full.

In this case, when all quotas are full, it’s possible to have more than 600 participants (but not more than 1,200 participants) who’ve completed the survey.

Cross quotas (interlocked)

When using cross-quotas, all quota-conditions will be combined (=crossed), so that each participant can only match one quota. In our example, the quota conditions of gender and age will be crossed. Two genders multiplied by three age groups results in six combinations, which means six quotas to define.

Additionally, we need to add smartphone usage into the quota. However, in this case only one answer is accepted, so the number of quotas to define does not increase and remains at six. In Survalyzer, these quotas are defined like this:

quotas cross quota

Screen-outs with cross quotas

When all screen-out criteria (in our example smartphone usage and age) are integrated in the cross quota, then a screen-out means that the participant does not match one quota. When not all screen-out criteria are within the cross quotas, these missing screen-out criteria have to be defined within the survey (as described in independent quotas).

Quota overview for cross quotas

The quota overview on the “Build”-page within the survey settings shows exactly 600 participants as the base.

quoa overview

As each participant can only match one quota, the sum of all participants defined in the quotas is 600, and each completed interview will increment the counter of each quota by one. When all quotas are full, exactly 600 participants will have completed the survey.

Difference between the two “quota full” options for cross quotas

As each participant can only match one cross quota, both options for “quota full” will be handled in the same way. If the matching quota is full, then there is no other matching quota remaining. Therefore, “any quota full” is always the same as “all matching quotas” are full.

Updated on August 26, 2019

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