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Survey methodology

UK Leaders in survey methodology for almost fifty years

Since the mid-seventies, The National Centre for Social Research  has been at the forefront of survey methodological research in the UK, often in collaboration with leading academics in this field. Our portfolio of theory-based research into survey practice covers the whole process of survey data production, including sampling, questionnaire design, data collection modes, non-response and data processing. We have developed and tested a wide range of new survey methods over the years, including computerisation of data collection, interviewer doorstep techniques, sampling of hard to get groups, participant materials, incentives, and mixing of data collection modes.  

Our activities in this area have widened in more recent years to include groundbreaking  scientific developments and technologies. For example, our biosocial surveys incorporate new methods for collecting biological samples that are practical in a survey setting, and improve our clients’ understanding of the relationship between our social environment and health. And our award-winning panel  uses online data collection among the general population, without sacrificing the scientific rigour of probability-based sampling. 

Our survey methodologists work with the teams responsible for designing and implementing surveys at NatCen, combining methodological knowledge with operational expertise. We also conduct our own methodological research and we are keen to collaborate with universities and other organisations to increase the quality of survey research in the UK. We are also able to provide training to survey commissioners, practitioners and data users. 

Examples of our survey methodological work 

  • Developing the NatCen Panel  - the development of the NatCen Panel, technical information on its methodology and key metrics on sample quality, and initial findings from methodological experiments.
  • Measuring alcohol consumption  – examination of why two surveys  produce different estimates of the proportions of people who drink to excess
  • The European Social Survey – the results of a mixed mode experiment  

Contact us

Interested in speaking to us about our survey methodology? Get in touch at
new-business@natcen.ac.uk today.