National Center for Social Research

London, United Kingdom

National Center for Social Research

London, United Kingdom
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Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 80.25K | Year: 2012

The Survey Skills Quantitative Methods Lecturer programme (SSQMLP) is open to lecturers and postgraduate students with responsibility for teaching QM to social science undergraduates in the UK HE and FE sector. It focuses on supporting lecturers who have to convey complex quantitative research ideas and skills to their undergraduates.

The scheme aims to provide a tailored development package delivered via local action learning sets which will extend lecturers QM teaching repertoires, strengthen their ability to effectively engage students with QM concepts and skills, build their confidence in teaching QM, and deepen their knowledge of survey research practice in the UK.  It has four main elements:

  1. action learning sets for 120 lecturers in three locations in England, Wales and   Scotland
  2. an online collaborative platform home to a supportive community of practice, shared resources, and discussion forums
  3. a survey placement scheme giving lecturers a real insight into applied survey research in the UK
  4. regional collaborators providing local one-to-one support during the scheme and building a network of QM teaching champions.

The project is led by NatCen Learning (NatCen Social Research), with partners includingCardiff, City and Edinburgh Universities, Ipsos Mori, TNS-BMRB, ONS, AQMeN and Vitae.


Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 154.60K | Year: 2012

The role of fathers as breadwinners and parents has been undergoing dramatic changes over the past few decades. In the UK and elsewhere in Europe, there is a renewed policy emphasis and concern about the role of men in families. At the same time, there is no single comprehensive source of information about men as fathers, their contribution and role in the family, involvement in childrearing, economic activity and contribution and how these factors interact.

This project aims to bridge this information gap and establish the UKs foremost analysis about the lives of fathers using data from four large-scale survey series: the Understanding Society, the European Union Labour Force Survey, the European Social Survey and the British Household Panel Study. Although principally focused on fathers in the UK, this study will also include international data to enhance our understanding of the role that societal-level factors play in shaping fathers work and family life.

The study will inform the development of innovative work-care policies and practices and empower key stakeholders to carry out their work more effectively drawing on the improved understanding of mens diverse family and work roles.

This study has received ethical approval from NatCen Social Research and UEA.

Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 247.87K | Year: 2014

We propose addressing each of these research aims through a three stage sequential mixed method design. Each element has its own aims but also feeds into the broader research design. 1. Social media research Cardiff University has been collecting a random 1% of all UK tweets since 2012. We will analyse the tweets collected during the period of the horsemeat scandal and review them to identify key search terms that can be used to identify other tweets that are likely to relate to the horsemeat scandal. We will then use this lexicon to search all Twitter traffic from the time of the scandal and purchase all of the relevant tweets for one month following the start of the scandal. We will use this data to map levels of activity and changing sentiment against a timeline of the key events. This will identify: - Key announcements, information and media coverage which had the greatest impact on social media. - Key messages, opinions or attitudes that developed at least partly because of social media. - How sentiment towards the scandal and particular actors changed over time. Secondly we will develop a network map showing how information flowed through Twitter, focussing on the producers and proliferators of key messages. This will include modelling the likelihood that particular opinions or information will be proliferated allowing us to: - Understand how and why particular information (and misinformation) on the horsemeat scandal proliferated through Twitter. - Identify key actors in bridging information between different groups represented on social media. 2. Qualitative workshops We propose conducting six half-day workshops with a total of up to 300 participants. A purposive sampling strategy will be adopted, in order to capture the views of a diverse range of people in terms of five characteristics which are known to be linked to food behaviours: socio-economic status, age, household composition, diet and ethnicity. We will conduct them across the UK to achieve further demographic and geographic spread. Each workshop will host 40 to 50 participants, include a mix of plenary sessions and smaller discussion groups and will be based around two themes: i) Food supply chains, trust, responsibility and values including: - How people understand food supply chains. - Whether they consider food supply chains when buying food, what they consider, why and how they obtain the information required to do this. - Who they trust for information about supply chains and food supply. - Who they see as responsible for food information and safety. ii) Managing food scares including: - How and why public perceptions of food supply chains were affected the recent horsemeat scandal. - How perceptions were affected by the actions of organisations involved in food supply chains, the government response, media coverage of the incident, and wider public debate. - Who people see as responsible for managing food scares and who they trust in these situations, and what they expect from government. 3. Quantitative survey We propose adding a module of 20 questions to the British Social Attitudes survey developed from the data collected during the other stages of the research. The exact content will be agreed once the results from these first two stages are known but may include: - Levels of engagement with issues related to supply chains - Key issues of concern regarding food chain management - Who the public trust to manage food production and food supply chains - What values should be applied to the management and regulation of food chains - Views on food scandals and scares and responses to them Data will be analysed against the full range of socio-demographic variables as well as other attitudinal data from other parts of the survey using a range of statistical methods, including segmentation.

Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 159.85K | Year: 2013

This project provides funding to maintain Britain’s participation in the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) from 2013 to 2015. The ISSP is one of the most important attempts at undertaking cross-national survey research that currently exist. Originally started in 1985 by research teams from Australia, Great Britain, the United States and the then West Germany, its membership now extends to 45 teams from countries that between them cover all five of the inhabited continents. Its aim is to facilitate in depth study of cross-national variation in attitudes towards subjects of global importance and interest. The British data is collected as part of the British Social Attitudes survey, carried out by NatCen Social Research.

The aim of ISSP is not simply to visit one topic and then move on to another. Rather it is that topics should be revisited on a regular basis. This means that the programme not only provides a means of examining cross-national differences at one point in time but also cross-national differences in trends over time. Over the next three years ISSP will address three topics. In 2013, it will field a module of questions about national identify, following on from earlier work in 1995 and 2003. In 2014 it covers citizenship, following on from work in 2004. And in 2015 it will revisit role of government, building on earlier work in 19858, 1990, 1995 and 2006.

Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 55.35K | Year: 2013

Almost two million people in the UK live with a level of sight loss that significantly impacts on their daily lives. People with sight loss have low levels of participation across many aspects of their lives and low levels of wellbeing.

Many organisations, from large national charities to small local voluntary groups, work to improve circumstances for people with sight loss. These organisations need evidence to develop services and to secure funds to deliver those services. Many in the sector highlight a lack of research skills and awareness.

This programme addresses this need through the following work strands:

  • Knowledge Exchange Across the Sector: eight regional workshops and networking events.
  • Professional and Workforce Development: social research training programme for researchers, policy officers and service managers in the national sight loss sector.
  • Knowledge Hub: offering sight loss organisations a point of contact for advice on social research evidence.
  • Collaboration and Networking: a network establishing sustainability by developing ongoing collaboration and cooperation beyond this project.

A new post for a formerly unemployed blind or partially sighted trainee will be created, to join the project team to help deliver these work strands.

Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 153.03K | Year: 2016

The International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) is one of the most important attempts to undertake cross-national survey research that currently exists. 46 countries currently participate, covering all five of inhabited continents across the world. Each year, member countries field an agreed module of 60 questions on a particular topic, usually as part of an existing random probability survey. The data from these studies, along with a set of prescribed socio-demographic background variables is then deposited in an agreed format with ISSP data archive. A wide range of different modules have been fielded since the project began in 1985, covering topics such as social inequality, religion and the role of government. Topics are chosen at an annual plenary meeting by attending members. They are revisited periodically, with a number having been covered three or four times. As a result, ISSP data can be used both to examine differences between countries at a particular point in time and to compare differences in trends over time. A combined dataset containing data for all countries is made publicly available to the research community approximately two years after data collection has taken place. ISSP data are widely used; worldwide, over 200 publications are recorded each year. In Britain, there have been over 500 publications using ISSP data since the programme began, close to 10% of the worldwide total. Since ISSP began, Britains participation has been facilitated by including the ISSP module on a self-completion supplement that forms part of the British Social Attitudes survey (BSA), an annual, high quality independent survey conducted by NatCen. This is a highly cost effective way of fielding the module, as only the marginal costs of asking the ISSP questions have to be covered. Until 2002, British participation was primarily funded through core funding given to the Centre for Research into Elections and Social Trends, an ESRC Research Centre. Since 2004 it has been funded as a research resource by the ESRC Resources Board, and this application proposes that this arrangement should continue for a further three years. ISSP will cover three topics during this period: role of government (2016), social networks (2017) and religion (2018): - The role of government module was previously fielded in 1985, 1990, 1996 and 2006. Its repetition will provide valuable data allowing us to track how views about issues such as extremism, surveillance and counter-terrorism have changed over time, at a time when many countries have experienced terror attacks or threats (and thus when we might anticipate attitude change) - The 2017 module on social networks was fielded in 1986 and 2004, and will include questions on support networks, a census of family and friendship relations, the use of social media in maintaining relationships, and whether relationships are positive or not. The module also looks at who should provide care and services for vulnerable groups at a time when an aging population is causing financial strain in many countries - The 2018 module on religion (asked 1991, 1998, 2008) will allow us to examine spirituality and well-being, the place of religion within state institutions, and the role of religion in conflict and extremism. This will provide valuable insights into how people follow and perceive religion during a period when it has been called on to justify acts of extremism and aggression A range of dissemination activities promoting awareness and use of ISSP data by social science researchers, policy-makers and media are proposed. These include: including at least one chapter a year based on ISSP data in the annual BSA report, which is freely available online and widely disseminated; developing a bespoke ISSP website including visualization of ISSP data; utilizing NatCens strong social media presence to raise awareness of the data; delivering presentations to relevant research and policy audiences.

Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 1.07M | Year: 2013

The European Social Survey (ESS) is designed to measure and explain the relationship between Europes changing institutions and the attitudes, values and behaviours of its population. The 2014 and 2016 surveys will be the 7th and 8th rounds in the series, following biennial surveys between 2002 and 2012.

This award covers the role of UK Co-ordinator and survey data collection for the 2014 and 2016 rounds of the ESS, which will be carried out by NatCen Social Research.

The Co-ordinator role entails a wide range of responsibilities, which fall largely into three categories:

  1. the provision of advice and guidance to the ESS Central Co-ordinating Team (CCT), and liaison between the ESS and the UK survey organisation
  2. the supervision, documentation and conduct of the UK survey
  3. the promotion of ESS within the UK.

The surveys will take place in 2014 and 2016 . Each round will involve interviews with approx 2,300 people randomly selected across England, Scotland and Wales.

Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Fellowship | Award Amount: 402.01K | Year: 2015

Although they differ in their readiness to put the issue before voters, all of Britains political parties now take the view that there should not be any significant change in the UKs relationship with the EU without the consent of voters as expressed in a referendum. As a result, no attempt to provide impartial evidence on the future of that relationship can be complete without taking public opinion into account. However, systematic impartial evidence can be difficult to ascertain both because the evidence itself is scattered across a disparate variety of sources and because protagonists in the debate prefer to promote the evidence of support for their views rather than a balanced account. This proposal is for a set of knowledge exchange activities designed to overcome these obstacles, together with some academic writing and research that will help fill some of the gaps in the relevant knowledge base. In particular, we propose, (i) the development of a website facility that brings the existing survey and polling evidence on attitudes towards Britains relationship with Europe into one place, accompanied by independent commentary, (ii) the provision of a set of briefing papers on specific topics, supplemented by oral presentations to those with a close professional interest in the subject, and (iii) the submission of two articles to academic journals, facilitated in part by the collection of new survey data. The website facility would bring together (i) all the key readings on public attitudes to Europe provided by commercial polling companies since 2010, and (ii) the key UK data from long running major academic and governmental surveys, (iii) access to key EU-wide attitudes where these are systematically available from cross-national sources for the period since 2004. The database would contain key methodological details for each poll/question and use the latest data visualisation and graphical facilities to make the statistical material as accessible as possible. In addition the website facility would provide a regular commentary (blog) on various aspects of public attitudes towards the EU. The writing of a blog would be initiated either (i) the release of a new output by the project itself (ii) on the occasion of events and media stories to which public opinion is pertinent, or (iii) the publication of new polling/survey evidence. The commentaries would be supplied principally by the applicant but guest blogs would also be sought from those with relevant expertise. The facility would also provide a bibliography of relevant literature. The briefing papers, of which at least six would be produced, will provide an introduction to the evidence on a particular topic. Attractively designed and written in an accessible style, they would be aimed at the non-academic professional and interested lay public. Presentations based on the findings of the briefings would be made at two off the record seminars held near SW1 and aimed at policy makers with a close professional interest in the subject. One or more similar seminars will also be offered to UK government officials. The academic articles would focus on (i) the extent to which instrumental evaluations and cultural concerns interact with each other in shaping attitudes towards the EU in the UK and in so doing have helped created a social division between winners and losers, and (ii) the degree to which attitudes towards the EU may be contingent on party stances and on potential changes to the rules and competences of the EU. The latter of these two pieces of work in particular would be facilitated by the inclusion of a module of 20 questions on the 2015 British Social Attitudes survey, the fieldwork for which would begin shortly after the 2015 general election.This new data collection will extend one of the longest running time series on the subject as well as cover topics, such as attitudes to changing the competences of the EU, hitherto little addressed.

Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 380.89K | Year: 2014

In order to (1) estimate whether BE improves outcomes for babies when compared to a group of mothers and babies who receive regular services and (2) explore how BE is being implemented in GM, we will carry out the following phases of work: 1. Development phase This will include the following activities: -Workshop with relevant stakeholders to map out the mechanisms of BE that create a change in child outcomes. This will inform our final research design and development of questionnaires. -Accessing ward level data and testing feasibility of ward level randomisation. This will be used to confirm the final design. -Recruit Assistant Psychologists and Volunteer Psychologists to support the research team. -Stakeholder engagement event in GM. -Set up Advisory Board. -Develop questionnaires for collecting child outcomes from mothers at around 12 months and online survey of health visitors. -Securing ethical approval from the National Research Ethics Service and the NHS, and R&D in each site to carry out the study and ensure that all mothers of interest will have sufficient information about the study to sign informed consent to participate in our study. This will require final versions of questionnaires and materials. -Pilot questionnaire. 2. Baby Express evaluation Mothers-to-be who present for their 36-week midwife appointment will be identified and recruited into our study by midwives and the assistant psychologists. The outcome measures will be collected during a face-to-face interview when children are 12-14 months old by NatCen interviewers. If needed, we will also collect outcome data from a cohort of mothers in the BE wards and control wards whose infants were born before BE was introduced to enable us to adjust our analysis for any individual level differences between the BE and control wards. Their outcomes will be measured in much the same way as those in the trial. We will also seek access to information about mothers antenatal pathway factors during pregnancy from the data collected as part of the Maternity Pathway Maternity Tariff Payment by Results system. This would include mothers in the BE and control areas as well as in two pre-BE cohorts. Our approach to data analysis will be determined by whether it has been possible to randomise wards into BE and control groups. Ideally, we will compare the post-BE outcomes in BE wards with those in control wards while taking into account clustering at the ward level. 3. Health Visitor survey We propose to gather the views and experiences of those involved in the delivery of the BE activities such as health visitors. The specific questions to be addressed will be developed in the initial stages of the project but overall, we aim explore: -How practitioners adhered to, adapted, dropped, or altered BE delivery? -What are the key contextual or supporting enablers and constraints in delivering BE successfully? -What worked and didnt work in delivering BE? -What is their overall perception of the value of BE and how well implementation is going? -Whether/how initial delivery intentions are being realised in current operations? -What are the challenges they have faced? -How have these challenges been addressed? The survey will be analysed using descriptive statistics, reported in charts and tables, and used to interpret and contextualise the impact findings from the BE trial described above. 4. Dissemination Our dissemination plan will be agreed at the start of the project. The activities will include public engagement opportunities at various stages of our project and publications targeted at key practitioner audiences, peer-reviewed journals, seminars/conferences and other events and through media.

Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Fellowship | Award Amount: 267.82K | Year: 2013

This project consists of three activities:

  1. a book-length study on public attitudes towards Scotland’s constitutional future
  2. a website that will act as a comprehensive and authoritative source of evidence on such attitudes
  3. research briefings on key aspects of public opinion.

The book will cover four main topics:

  1. trends in attitudes since 1999
  2. why people support or oppose Scottish independence
  3. what policies people would want an independent Scotland to pursue
  4. how much devolution would Scotland want if it remained within the UK.

It will assess the lessons that can be drawn from the Scottish case for a number of key academic and policy debates.

The web site will have three main elements, designed to enhance the quality of academic and non-academic reporting of public opinion. It will bring together and make easily accessible all the key survey readings on public opinion published since 2007. It will post blogs on new poll findings shortly after they are published. And it will provide a set of digital links to the existing literature.

The research briefings will be four page commentaries on the state of public opinion in respect of a number of key aspects of the debate about Scotland’s constitutional future.

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