The future of online data collection in social surveys: Shared learning on the challenges, opportunities and best practice

International conference

This is a closed event – attendance by invitation only. Confirmed attendees include delegates from Universities of Michigan, Chicago, Utrecht, Mannheim, Essex, London City, UCL and Southampton; National Statistical Organisations ONS, UK Statistics Authority, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, Central Statistics Office Ireland, National Records of Scotland, Destatis, CBS Statistics Netherlands, Statistics Finland, Statistics Norway, Statistics Austria, Statistics Portugal, Central Bureau of Statistics Israel, US Census Bureau, Stats Canada and Australian Bureau of Statistics; Data collection agencies KANTAR Public and Ipsos Mori; Government departments Sports England, Departments for International Development, Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Education and Transport, Cabinet Office, Mayor of London's Office, Welsh Government and Scottish Government; independent research institute NatCen and GESIS and others organisations including Wellcome Trust, Sustrans, Financial Conduct Authority, Care Quality Commission, Visit England and Which?

Report: A summary of the agreed challenges, opportunities and best practice for online data collection in the UK in 2019 and the future.

Organising Committee

Olga Maslovskaya – University of Southampton

Laura Wilson – Office for National Statistics

Andrew Phelps – Office for National Statistics

Gabriele Durrant – University of Southampton

Peter WF Smith – University of Southampton

Penny White – University of Southampton

The event is organised jointly by the University of Southampton and the Social Surveys Transformation Programme at the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The event is part of the ESRC-funded Secondary Data Analysis Initiative project "Understanding survey response behaviour in a digital age: Mixed-device online surveys and mobile device use" and National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) Work Package 1 "Data Collection for Data Quality".


Mick Couper

Mick Couper is a Research Professor in the Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. Professor Couper’s current research interests include survey non-response, design and implementation of survey data collection, effects of technology on the survey process, and computer-assisted interviewing, including both interviewer-adminstered (CATI and CAPI) and self-administered (web, audio-CASI, IVR) surveys. Many of his current projects focus on the design of web surveys.

Frankie Kay

Frankie Kay is the Head of Census and Data Collection Transformation at the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Gerry Nicolaas

Gerry Nicolaas is Director of Methods at NatCen Social Research. Gerry has more than 25 years’ experience as a survey researcher and a survey methodologist specialising in data collection methods and response issues in government, academia and the non-profit sector. At NatCen Gerry has been responsible for introducing new incentive strategies for survey participation and has encouraged the use of survey paradata to improve fieldwork practices and data quality. She has led on a number of grant-funded projects addressing emerging survey methodological issues such as mixed modes and measurement error, a network on paradata, a network on using the web to survey the general population and she was co-applicant on a project that investigated response rates and non-response bias.

Programme 20-21 June 2019, University of Southampton

Download Programme

20 June 2019 Thursday
Session 1

10:00–10:05Introduction - Olga Maslovskaya – Senior Researcher, National Centre for Research Methods, University of Southampton
10:05–10:15Welcome from Professor Alex Neill - Vice President (Education), University of Southampton
10:15–11:00Keynote: Online Surveys: Opportunities and Challenges Mick Couper, Research Professor, Survey Research Centre, University of Michigan
11:00–11:30Collecting data for official statistics with a smartphone app: is it feasible? Peter Lugtig, Associate Professor, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Utrecht University
11:50–12:20Running complex surveys on difference devices: What's the challenge? Karen Blanke, Survey Methodologist, Federal Statistical Office Germany
12:20–12:50Online data collection within a mixed-mode design: learning from the Our Future longitudinal survey of young people. Joel Williams, Head of Survey Methods & Tim Hanson, Director, Kantar Public
13:40–14:10General discussion with Peter Lugtig, Karen Blanke, Joel Williams, Tim Hanson and Mick Couper

Session 2

14:10–14:55Keynote: Social Survey Transformation: opportunities and challenges looking to the future Frankie Kay, Director of Transformation, Population and Public Policy, ONS
14:55–15:25Benefits and issues in the use of internet-based surveys; Experience from Israel. Danny Pfeffermann, Government Statistician and Head of the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel
15:45–16:15On-line data collection for comparative research: perspectives from the European Social Survey. Rory Fitzgerald, Director of the European Social Survey, City, University of London
16:15–16:45Innovating with online data collection: Measurement, sampling and new forms of data. Curtis Jessop, Research Director, NatCen Social Research
16:45–17:15 General discussion with Danny Pfeffermann, Rory Fitzgerald, Curtis Jessop and Frankie Kay

21 June 2019 Friday
Session 3 [58/1067]

09:30–10:15Keynote: Online data collection for social surveys: back to basics. Gerry Nicolaas, Director of Methods, NatCen Social Research
10:15–10:45Moving a household panel survey to mixed mode: The experience of Understanding Society. Jonathan Burton, Associate Director, Surveys, Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Essex
11:00–11:30Experimental methods to increase online response rates in Australian social surveys. Stephen Cohen, Innovation Panel Manager, Australian Bureau of Statistics
11:30–12:00Push to web: From Active People to Active Lives Andrew Spiers, Strategic Lead: Data, Research and Evaluation, Sport England
12:00–12:30General discussion with Jonathan Burton, Stephen Cohen, Andrew Spiers and Gerry Nicolaas
13:15–14:00Interactive Workshops
Group 1 – RedRoom: 2095Moderator: Olga Maslovskaya
Group 2 – YellowRoom: 1039Moderator: Laura Wilson
Group 3 – GreenRoom: 1007Moderator: Andrew Phelps
Group 4 – OrangeRoom: 2097Moderator: Gabriele Durrant
Group 5 – BlueRoom: 1025Moderator: Peter Smith
Group 6 - StarsRoom: 1023Moderator: Carli Lessof
14:00-15:45Whole group discussion
Moderators: Laura, Andrew and Olga


The Conference is being hosted by the University of Southampton in Murray Building on Highfield Campus. The University is easily accessible by car (M3 and M27) and public transport with fast trains serving Southampton Central from London and beyond and Southampton International Airport just a few minutes away.

We have arranged bed and breakfast accommodation and a conference banquet dinner for the night of Thursday 20th June at the Chilworth Manor Hotel, which is set in 12 acres of landscaped grounds just 3 miles from the University