Centre for Social Survey Transformation
The Centre for Social Survey Transformation exists to make social research surveys more flexible, responsive and efficient.
The majority of high-quality surveys in the UK are administered face-to-face. However, falling response rates, changing societal expectations and rising costs mean that survey commissioners and methodologists are increasingly looking towards more agile and affordable data collection methods.
But switching approaches or implementing mixed-mode designs involves complex trade-offs regarding representation, measurement, respondent experience, time and cost, which are rarely understood. We can help you to understand these trade-offs.
We are a team of survey research specialists who work with survey commissioners to design social research solutions that meet their specific research needs. By using well-established techniques based on a deep understanding of the research literature, and placing emphasis on empirical evidence, we provide a clear, systematic process for evaluating survey designs and generating evidence around social survey transformation.
The Centre for Social Survey Transformation has a particular focus on transitioning surveys from face-to-face to web-first or mixed-mode designs. Our work is informed by the following principles:
- We are methodologically neutral
- We are guided by empirical evidence
- We provide clear, impartial summaries and recommendations
- We put the survey respondent at the heart of what we do
The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) work with government departments, other public sector bodies, academics and charities. We deliver high-quality quantitative research solutions which are bespoke to each project, ensuring that the information required to answer given research questions is collected in the most robust and efficient way.
We are able to offer the whole suite of quantitative research methods in-house, including face-to-face, online, telephone and postal methods.
In recent years there has been a growing demand for push-to-web and mixed-mode designs. Push-to-web surveys were first popularised by Don Dillman in his book The Tailored Design Method (Dillman, 2000). NatCen was the first body in the UK to test push-to-web methods with a prototype version of the European Social Survey in 2012.
Since then, a number of formats of push-to-web surveys have been developed to meet different research needs. These designs vary in a number of significant ways that have implications for representation, measurement, respondent experience, time and cost. We can adapt across these formats and give expert advice on the most appropriate way to meet specific research requirements.
The above figure outlines examples of the type of push-to-web survey we offer, from a simple push-to-web design – in which a random sample of addresses is drawn and letters are sent to each one giving details of how to complete the survey online – to designs with one or more additional modes of completion to ensure those who are less able to complete a survey online are able to take part.
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The Centre for Social Survey Transformation is a hub which brings together experts from across NatCen to develop and share knowledge on how to transform surveys. Its work is led by a core management team.