COVID-19 implications on the ESS

08/04/20

The Coronavirus pandemic is having widespread implications on people, businesses and research across the world, and the European Social Survey (ESS) is no exception.

As a result, our second release of Round 9 (2018/19) data will now be published slightly later in mid-June, and not late May as originally planned.

This short delay in the publication of data will allow us to include the vast majority of countries who took part in Round 9 but who missed the first release, as well as providing post-stratification weights for all countries.

This second release will incorporate the initial Round 9 dataset - published in October 2019 - that included survey responses collected in 19 participating countries.

Our Round 10 (2020/21) face-to-face data collection is due to begin in September 2020 - the Coronavirus situation will most likely have implications on this fieldwork.

Specifically, this is due to uncertainties on when it will be possible to start fieldwork as well as a likely backlog in delayed face-to-face projects from the first half of 2020.

The ESS core scientific team (CST) has therefore agreed - in consultation with national coordinators (NCs) - that participating countries should aim to start face-to-face fieldwork as close as possible to 1 March 2021.

However - given the feasibility to undertake in person interviews is likely to vary considerably between countries - our fieldwork period will be more flexible than usual, allowing countries to start collecting survey data at any time between 1 September 2020 and 1 September 2021.

To maintain the comparability of our data as much as possible in these difficult times, all Round 10 fieldwork must be finished by 31 December 2021.

Whilst the decision has been made to continue with face-to-face interviewing during Round 10, we understand that some countries might face difficulties using this mode in the short and medium term.

There are also concerns that face-to-face capacity might decrease more rapidly in light of the COVID-19 situation and that there may be an impact on response rates.

The CST and NCs are therefore working together to ensure we are ready for the future by developing alternative methods.

ESS ERIC Director, Professor Rory Fitzgerald, said:

“The data from ESS Round 10 will be especially powerful enabling changes in a wide range of sociological, political and economic measures to be interpreted in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“However, as a face-to-face survey, the ESS has serious challenges ahead on conducting fieldwork in a very challenging context. We will work closely with our national teams to respond to this challenge with as much flexibility as possible.”