Global partnerships revealed


The European Social Survey (ESS) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with research organisations in Australia (Australian National University) and South Africa (Human Sciences Research Council) as part of its strategy for global outreach.

It means that ESS survey questions will be fielded in the probability based online panel - Life in Australia - and the South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS).

Questions from the main ESS questionnaire will be fielded in Australia during spring 2020 as a result of the MOU with the Centre for Social Research and Methods (CSRM) at the Australian National University (ANU).

Two versions of our core questionnaire will be fielded in Life in Australia: one which maximises comparability with the face-to-face format of the survey and another which maximises a version adapted for website completion.

The data will be made available via links in the related studies section of our website next year, allowing for direct comparisons between data collected from survey respondents in Europe and Australia.

The survey is undertaken by the Social Research Centre (SRC), a subsidiary of the Australian National University and partner of the CSRM.

The existing collaboration with the South African Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) will be extended for at least four years, meaning that there will be further opportunities for SASAS to include ESS questions in their face-to-face survey.

The South African survey is a nationally representative cross-sectional survey that has been conducted annually by the HSRC since 2003.

In 2014/15, SASAS replicated our rotating modules: Social inequalities in health (fielded in ESS Round 7)); Understandings and evaluations of democracy (Round 6); and Trust in Police and Criminal Courts (Round 5).

This existing data was collected as a result of funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Newton Fund in the UK and the South African National Research Foundation (NRF).

The 2014/15 SASAS data is available for download from the related studies section of our website.

The cooperative framework agreed between the ESS and both organisations will promote the exchange of knowledge and allow for methodological improvements to all three surveys.

Closer collaboration with other surveys across the world has been a long-term aim for the ESS since its implementation in 2001 with more formal efforts developed since 2015 under the H2020 ESS-SUSATIN grant (from the European Commission GA 676166.).

Professor Rory Fitzgerald, Director of ESS ERIC stated:

“I am delighted that we have signed MoUs with leading research organisations in Australia and South Africa. It marks a recognition and further development of our global outreach strategy.

“As Europe strengthens itself as a leader in global research infrastructures, ESS ERIC is proud to play its role in building strong scientific partnerships for the social sciences.”

Professor Matthew Gray, Director, ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, said:

“This is an excellent initiative which will increase our ability to compare Australia to European countries and will be a valuable addition to Australia’s data assets.”

Professor Crain Soudien, Chief Executive Officer of the Human Sciences Research Council, stated:

“We are deeply grateful for the establishment of this MoU, which will provide a platform to deepen the longstanding linkages between European and South African social survey infrastructures and produce new cross-national insight and joint learning.”

Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller, executive director of the Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD) research programme of the Human Sciences Research Council, said:

“This is a special milestone in our efforts to gain a deeper understanding of the South African social, political and moral landscape and how it is changing as our democracy matures in comparison with other established democracies.”

Dr. Ben Roberts, South African Social Attitudes Survey coordinator, added:

“This was a fitting tribute to the multiple and invaluable contributions that Professor Jowell made in developing both survey series, and his rigorous commitment to social science that makes a difference.”

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