NEWS26 November 2021

Mix of survey methods crucial post-Covid-19

Covid-19 Innovations News Trends UK

UK – Research post-Covid-19 will use a mixed set of approaches, although face-to-face research will remain a key component of gold standard research projects, a Royal Statistical Society event has heard.

Writing complete survey questionnaire_crop

Speaking at the Cathie Marsh Memorial Lecture earlier this week, Kelly Beaver, managing director at Ipsos Mori Public Affairs, said that the pandemic had provided opportunities to experiment with mixed-mode approaches to research.

“We have learnt a lot about integrating multi-mode approaches, and we have learnt a lot about hybrid approaches, an combining our survey research with massive data,” she said.

“We have taken this opportunity to innovate. The sky is not the limit – we thought that gold-standard research and face-to-face is the showtime, that this is it. But actually it is not the limit of possibility.”

However, Beaver said that face-to-face remained important as “there are some people who will not respond to any other method” and because of the quality of data it produced.

Peter Benton, director of transformation – health, population and methods group at the Office for National Statistics, told the event that the future is a “mixture of online surveys with some face-to-face”.

“The future is online-first, multi-mode surveys that are integrated with new sources. We are definitely going to continue to need face to face.”

He added that Covid-19 had put the importance of surveys “back on the map”, adding: “We stood up an online opinion survey within about a week. Understanding whether people were social distancing, were they wearing masks, were they helping neighbours with shopping. Those kinds of answers you can’t get from anywhere else.”

Also speaking at the lecture, Craig Watkins, UK chief executive at Kantar Public, said that clients had greater expectations on research than they did pre-pandemic.

“Clients now have greater expectations on speed and greater expectations on frequency, while still maintaining demand for high-quality data. I don’t see that going away anytime soon,” he explained.

“We need understand how to access the data in the time we have been asked to do so.”

He said mixed mode research allows greater flexibility, reduces cost and focuses more on participant preferences, allowing companies to cater for internet-savvy audiences as well as those not currently using the internet.

Gerry Nicolaas, director of methods at the NatCen Social Research, said that surveys would also play an important role in research, but that new techniques would also have to be integrated.

“Surveys show you what you need to know and when you need to know it. Game, set and match to the survey,” Nicolaas added.

“Following the evidence suggests that many of the complex national surveys will come back face-to-face as mixed mode as soon as is practical.”