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ESRA 2023 Preliminary Glance Program

All time references are in CEST

Strategic session on the future of survey practices: How has the pandemic affected survey practices - which are worth keeping in the long term?

Session Organisers Dr Andrew Phelps (Office for National Statistics UK)
Dr Laura Wilson (Office for National Statistics UK)
TimeFriday 21 July, 11:00 - 12:30
Room Martini U6-4

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about seismic changes in the survey research world. Many established national surveys within weeks had to significantly change their collection methodologies in order to continue to feed data to national indicators. Many new collections needed to be stood up at pace to measure the impact of COVID-19.
As the survey world emerges from the pandemic, it is left asking itself many strategic questions about the future of survey practices. This session is designed as an opportunity to discuss these challenges more broadly, and will not focus on specific pieces of research that have been conducted in this area.

This strategic session will focus on:

a. Corporate structures – the impact of increased and dispersed survey activity in a large organisation and strategies to improve cohesion in this new context

b. The impact of the pandemic on field interviewing and post pandemic strategies for effective field activity

c. Legacy survey practices – many new survey practices emerged during COVID - what shouldn't endure and what’s worth keeping?

d. Future – post pandemic preparedness – what can we do to prepare for the next emergency that surveys will need to respond to?

The session will finish with an opportunity for audience interaction - sharing experiences and insights of these post pandemic challenges and discussion of potential solutions and ways forward.

Keywords: survey practice, pandemic, field interviewing

The challenges of optimal survey delivery as we emerge from a time of crisis

Mr Andrew Phelps (Office for National Statistics) - Presenting Author
Ms Laura Wilson (Office for National Statistics)

The ONS is a large NSI which conducts many of the UK’s largest and most important government social surveys. The pandemic resulted in significant changes to ONS’s survey portfolio, and the design and delivery of our surveys. Like others, we found ourselves unable to follow the traditional survey development steps as cost and speed became priorities for delivery.

At ONS survey expertise and delivery is now spread across multiple teams and directorates, and practitioners continue to have to respond to pressure for more rapid delivery. Risks associated with this highly pressurised disaggregated approach to delivery include a loosening of methodological standards and best practice, as well as a dilution of survey capability.

The ONS Survey Strategy team and the UK Government Data Quality Hub (based at ONS) are working together to create guidance products and strengthen best practice to survey delivery areas. This work has been highly collaborative working across the entire ONS survey community to ensure outputs are fit for purpose.

ONS has initiated a programme of work to strengthen the disparate community of survey practitioners. This paper outlines key elements of this work including:
• Development of ONS’s first ever organisational wide survey strategy
• Development of a Survey Best Practice Repository (commonly known as the Survey Playbook)
• New governance model (including design assurance)
• Joined-up transparent approach to demand management.

Key resources from this work are driving up best practice in survey methods, standards, and evidence utilisation which has already led to improved and more aligned decision making. The Survey Strategy provides a framework for future work to align to and is helping create a more cohesive ONS survey community.

The session will require audience interaction regarding sharing experiences and insights of these pandemic challenges from other organisations and discussion of potential solutions and ways forward.