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Developing a global online panel

Following a workshop in December 2019, the European Social Survey (ESS) has published a report about the opportunities for international collaboration to develop a global online survey.

The workshop - Mapping the global online probability-based panel landscape - brought together representatives of existing and emerging probability-based web panels undertaken at national level.

It aimed to address ongoing concerns about the future of face-to-face interviewing - mainly due to rising costs, falling response rates and less fieldwork agencies available to conduct interviews.

Participants were given the platform to compare current and planned approaches to online data collection and plan future methodological and substantive cooperation.

Existing panels that attended the workshop were the American Trends Panel; AmeriSpeak; Center for Survey Research Panel (Taiwan); i-Bus Panel (India); and Life in Australia.

The session was also attended by four proposed panels: Centre of Media and Social Analysis Panel (Chile); Mirroring Russian Society Panel; Panel Study of Family Dynamics (Taiwan); and the South African Social Attitudes Survey Panel.

The subsequent report - Collaborative Action Plan: Report on Opportunities for International Collaboration - outlines the challenges that would need to be overcome to enable a global panel to be established.

These include: funding, ensuring representativeness across countries (including amongst respondents with no Internet access), data protection issues and harmonising methodologies.

The report also detailed 12 opportunities that a global web panel would bring, such as ensuring minimum scientific standards for sampling and data collection, reducing bias, accessing data from more countries and being able to release the data more quickly.

From 2016-18, the ESS collected data online through the first harmonised cross-national probability-based online panel (CRONOS) as part of the Horizon 2020 project, Synergies for Europe's Research Infrastructures in the Social Sciences (SERISS).

As announced earlier this month, European Commission (EC) funding will be used by the ESS to collect survey data online from respondents in 12 countries over the next three years.

A blueprint for the future has also been developed by the ESS for a Europe-wide panel that could potentially see online data collected from participants across the European Research Area and beyond.

The workshop and report were delivered as part of the European Research Infrastructures in the International Landscape (RISCAPE) project, funded by the EC’s Horizon 2020 programme (Grant number 730974).

RISCAPE brought together a consortium of organisations to analyse research infrastructures of all scientific disciplines and produce a report for use by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), EC and funding agencies.

Professor Rory Fitzgerald, Director of the European Social Survey ERIC, said:

“Survey research is undergoing a rapid transformation and on-line data collection is likely to play an increasing role in future. This provides an opportunity to build new links at a global level and offers Europe the chance to play a leading role in building international collaboration.”

Read the report - Collaborative Action Plan: Report on Opportunities for International Collaboration

Further information about the RISCAPE project

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