ESS announces change to data collection methodology


The European Social Survey (ESS) General Assembly has endorsed a plan to transition data collection from face-to-face interviews to a ‘web first self-completion’ design.

Following a series of reviews and consultations with internal key stakeholders, the ESS General Assembly approved the recommendation from our Core Scientific Team to progress with collecting data primarily through web and paper self-completion surveys.

Details on precisely how and when the change will take place will be decided in early 2023. In the meantime, ESS Round 11 (starting in February 2023) will use the existing face-to-face data collection design. A decision regarding Round 12 (2025) is expected soon.

The move follows the use of a self-completion methodology in ESS Round 10 (2020-22), introduced as a response to the pandemic in some countries.  

Professor Rory Fitzgerald, Director of the ESS, welcomed this decision:

“Whilst change is always a challenge, the time has come for the ESS to face up to the future and prepare for a transition of its data collection methods whilst striving to maintain quality and comparability.

“As the survey landscape for data collection in Europe is very different cross-nationally the time to enact such a change will always be a compromise.

“However, it is clear that in many countries the future of data collection for surveys like the ESS will be online, with a paper self-completion option to ensure representativeness.

“We look forward to sharing our plans as they develop with our data users and to working with our national teams on this exciting change.”

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