Modes of Data Collection

Background and goals

One of the main aims of the ESS is “to chart stability and change in social structure, conditions and attitudes in Europe”. To make meaningful comparisons of survey estimates of attitudes across countries, it is necessary to implement high standards of scientific rigor (Jowell et al, 2007). In pursuit of maximum data comparability, essential survey conditions are implemented as similarly as possible across ESS participating countries. For this reason, all ESS countries are required to conduct face-to-face data collection.

At the same time, the ESS presents an outstanding opportunity to investigate important methodological issues concerning survey data quality in a cross-national context. A programme of methodological research has been built into the project, in order to investigate major issues in surveys such as non-response, the reliability and validity of questions and the feasibility of mixing modes of data collection.

The ESS research into mixed modes aims to provide information that will help to inform decisions regarding:

The following issues are being assessed:

Research projects

To date, six studies have been carried out. Of these, three focused solely on assessing the effect of mode on measurement (studies 1, 2, and 3). The other three studies investigated the feasibility and practical challenges of implementing the ESS using a different mode, where all sources of error were affected by the mode design (studies 4, 5, and 6).

A summary of the results of the six experiments can be found in the book chapter listed in the sidebar.

Building on the experience of these studies, ESS ERIC coordinated Work Package 7 of the SERISS project. The Work Package investigated opportunities and challenges of high quality online data collection. This established a probability sample based web panel in three countries. WP7 aimed to:

More information on this project can be found on the CRONOS page.