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ESS agrees partnership with General Social Survey

The European Social Survey (ESS) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the General Social Survey.

The MoU has been signed to advance survey research methodology and share best practices between social science researchers.

This four-year formal partnership aims to improve the survey methodology of both organisations, especially in the transition to collecting data using self-completion modes.

The agreement comes at a crucial moment in social research, where many large surveys are switching from face-to-face data collection to self-administered methodologies.

A formal partnership between two leading social science institutions like the ESS and the GSS will facilitate the knowledge exchange in a timely manner and will benefit others that are undertaking similar methodological shifts.

The collaboration will also focus on developing survey methodology that uses cost-efficient technology, mainly in relation to self-completion methods.

The General Social Survey (GSS) has collected sociological and attitudinal trend data in the United States since 1972.

Since then, the GSS has been a rigorous and widely used source of data on what Americans think and feel about important national issues, such as government spending priorities, crime and punishment, intergroup relations, and confidence in institutions.

The GSS has been conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago since its implementation.

In May 2022, the ESS announced a plan to transition data collection away from face-to-face interviews to a ‘web first self-completion’ design.

In the same year, the GSS started conducting experiments to compare multimode methodologies, which include face-to-face and web-based methodologies.

By bringing the two organisations together, it is hoped that the partnership will strengthen the way both surveys conduct data collection in the short-, medium- and long-term future.

Professor Rory Fitzgerald, director of the ESS, said: 

“The pioneering work of GSS inspired the ESS, which in turn has developed its own expertise. 

“We look forward to a mutually beneficial partnership where we can continue to capture people’s shifting attitudes through improved research infrastructure, data collection, and wider dissemination.”

Together we can continue asking vital questions about societal attitudes over time, with the benefit of using innovative data.

René Bautista Director of the General Social Survey

René Bautista, director of the GSS and associate director of the Methodology & Quantitative Social Sciences department at NORC at the University of Chicago, added:

“We formed this collaboration so we can learn from each other.

“The GSS and ESS bring their own distinctive strengths that will contribute to the growth of each survey.

“Together we can continue asking vital questions about societal attitudes over time, with the benefit of using innovative data.”

The process of signing a Memorandum of Understanding has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871063.

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