2022 Cathie Marsh Lecture: Cost, speed, quality – two out of three ain’t bad…or is it?
Many who work on the design and development of large national surveys across government, academia and in collection agencies are concerned about the long-term effect of the pandemic on data-collection methods, and subsequently quality. Pre-pandemic, the typical approach to developing a high-quality national survey usually involves pre-testing and piloting phases before going ‘live’.
However, back in early 2020 when the pandemic began, many, if not all of us working on such surveys found ourselves unable to follow the traditional steps of survey development. In most cases, this meant that the pre-testing and pilot phases were lost due to the urgent need for data – cost and speed became priorities.
The pandemic imposed a stage of evolution on survey development. It forced us all to do things differently, which was necessary during those unprecedented times. However, as we begin to emerge from the pandemic, the shared concern is that this way of working is now becoming expected and the ‘new normal’, potentially at the expense of quality. Should this way of working become the new normal, or do we need to steer ourselves back on course to quality?
This year's lecture was a continuation of the strategic discussion had in the 2021 lecture. However, this time the focus was on the views and concerns of practitioners from across the sector about the status quo of survey development in the UK. There were four presentations, from the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), Ipsos, Kantar Public and the Office for National Statistics.