Social Accountability Reporting for Research (SAR4Research): checklist to strengthen reporting on studies on social accountability in the literature

Joan Marie Kraft, Ligia Paina, Victoria Boydell, Shatha Elnakib, Andreas Sihotang, Angela Bailey, Courtney Tolmie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: An increasing number of evaluations of social accountability (SA) interventions have been published in the past decade, however, reporting gaps make it difficult to summarize findings. We developed the Social Accountability Reporting for Research (SAR4Research) checklist to support researchers to improve the documentation of SA processes, context, study designs, and outcomes in the peer reviewed literature and to enhance application of findings. Methods: We used a multi-step process, starting with an umbrella review of reviews on SA to identify reporting gaps. Next, we reviewed existing guidelines for reporting on behavioral interventions to determine whether one could be used in its current or adapted form. We received feedback from practitioners and researchers and tested the checklist through three worked examples using outcome papers from three SA projects. Results: Our umbrella review of SA studies identified reporting gaps in all areas, including gaps in reporting on the context, intervention components, and study methods. Because no existing guidelines called for details on context and the complex processes in SA interventions, we used CONSORT-SPI as the basis for the SAR4Research checklist, and adapted it using other existing checklists to fill gaps. Feedback from practitioners, researchers and the worked examples suggested the need to eliminate redundancies, add explanations for items, and clarify reporting for quantitative and qualitative study components. Conclusions: Results of SA evaluations in the peer-reviewed literature will be more useful, facilitating learning and application of findings, when study designs, interventions and their context are described fully in one or a set of papers. This checklist will help authors report better in peer-reviewed journal articles. With sufficient information, readers will better understand whether the results can inform accountability strategies in their own contexts. As a field, we will be better able to identify emerging findings and gaps in our understanding of SA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number121
JournalInternational journal for equity in health
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Indonesia
  • Reporting checklist
  • Uganda
  • evaluation
  • social accountability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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