Researcher visit

Information about taking part with a researcher

Since 1983 British Social Attitudes has been tracking the views and opinions of the public on the big issues facing the nation.

Every year we invite the British public to share their views on a range of topics such as work, equalities, welfare, health and how the country is run.

Households are randomly selected from across England, Scotland and Wales to take part in the study. This way we are able to get a truly unbiased picture of attitudes in Britain.

If your household has been selected to participate, we will have sent information about how to take part in the post. This information includes the survey link (https://survey.natcen.ac.uk/BSA2021) and the eight-digit access code. We understand that not everyone is able or willing to take part online. To make sure everyone has an opportunity to participate and that our findings reflect the whole population our researchers are visiting selected addresses in person and, if the selected individual agrees, to carry out a short interview with them.

Your answers are then combined with others and then used by a number of charities, government departments, public bodies and researchers to understand what the British public really thinks about the issues of the day. The information you provide will also be used to help decide the best way to carry out the British Social Attitudes survey in the future.

Find out more about what taking part in the survey will involve below.

Frequently asked questions

What is the British Social Attitudes survey?

British Social Attitudes is the longest-running study of public attitudes in Britain. Since 1983 this highly respected study has been tracking the views and opinions of the public on the big issues facing the nation. It's the only survey of its kind.

Every year we ask people from across Britain what they think about a range of topics like health, welfare and how the country is run. This means that we can not only show what people in Britain think about important issues today, but we can also show how opinions and views have changed over the years.

Why are you visiting my address?

Up until the pandemic the survey was carried out by specially trained NatCen researchers in people’s homes. As a result of the pandemic it hasn’t been possible to conduct the survey in the same way, so we moved the survey online. However, we know that not everyone is able or willing to take part in this way. We would like to know if offering people the opportunity to take part with a researcher instead of online means that even more people have their voice heard and that the findings more accurately reflect the views of the whole nation.

Before we can introduce this new approach, we need to understand whether it helps. We will use the findings from this study to help us decide whether to introduce the new approach into the survey in the future.

Why are you collecting this information?

The survey is designed to capture a representative picture of the attitudes of the British public towards issues of interest to NatCen and its funders. The British Social Attitudes survey is the best way to capture this information.

What does the study involve?

A specially trained NatCen researcher will ask you some questions about yourself and your views on a variety of different topics including health, employment, welfare and politics. We will be offering face-to-face or telephone interviews depending on COVID-19 guidelines and your preference. Our researchers are trained in COVID-19 safety measures and adhere to strict procedures.

Your personal details and survey answers will be treated in accordance with current data protection legislation.

If there is more than one adult (aged 18 or over) living in the household, the researcher will randomly select one person to take part.

What are your COVID-19 procedures?

We want to reassure you that we are working in line with government guidance to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission. You will have received a leaflet detailing our COVID-19 protocol with your advance letter.

The measures include:

  • Where possible interviews will be carried out at a 2-metre social distance and 1metre as a minimum
  • Researchers will wear face masks for the entire duration of the interview
  • Researchers will be required to self-assess their health and will not be permitted to work if they have displayed symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 10 days

If you’re not comfortable with a researcher carrying out the interview in your home, they will be able to conduct the interview via telephone and will arrange this with you when they visit.

What will you ask me about?

The interview itself is really relaxed – we will ask you about a range of topics including work, pensions, NHS services, parental leave and disability and mental health in the workplace. For many questions you will be asked to pick from a selection of common answers. And don’t worry – you don’t have to answer any questions you don’t want to – just tell the researcher that you don’t want to answer a particular question.

What will I receive for taking part?

As a thank you, everyone that takes part will receive a £10 Love2Shop voucher.

It’s easy to say no, but we hope you won’t. We’re not asking for money, just that you spare a little time to share your thoughts and opinions.

We will never ask for your bank details or passwords.

Can I still take part online?

Yes, if you prefer to take part online you can still do so. Please visit https://survey.natcen.ac.uk/BSA2021 and enter the eight-digit access code on your letter. 

What is the information from British Social Attitudes used for?

It provides important information about public attitudes across a range of different subjects. It is used by government departments, academics, charities and consultants to understand what the public thinks. You can view our reports here.

How did you choose my address?

We have selected a random sample of addresses from a list of all addresses in Britain, kept by the Post Office. This is to make sure that the survey represents the whole country.

Whoever you are, whatever you think, your opinion is important to us.

What will happen to the information I give?

We will treat the information you give us in the strictest confidence and in accordance with GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018. The results collected are used for research purposes only. Your answers will be combined with others and any information that could directly identify you will be removed before we analyse and share the data. We will publish the findings from the online survey in a report which is free to download. Any reports written will not identify anyone who took part in the survey. An anonymised version of the data from the online survey is provided to funders and archived with the UK Data Service, where it is accessible to people for research purposes only. Your answers will not be identifiable in the data. The information you provide will also be used to inform the design of the survey in the future.

You will never receive any junk mail as a result of speaking to us. We never pass on your details to other organisations for commercial purposes.

You can read more about how your data will be used at the foot of the page in our Privacy Notice.

What if I don’t want to take part?

If you don’t want to take part in the study, please send an email to BSA2021@natcen.ac.uk or you can call 0800 652 9295, please provide your reference number.

Where can I get more information?

If you have any questions at all, you can get in touch with us by phone or by email.

Privacy notice

The purpose of processing your information

The British Social Attitudes survey is designed to capture a representative picture of the attitudes of the British public towards issues of interest to the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) and its funders.

This study provides important information about public attitudes across a range of different subjects. It is used by government departments, academics, charities and consultants to understand what the public thinks. As part of this survey we are also aiming to find out if enabling people to take part in an interview with a researcher helps to provide more opportunity for everyone selected to take part and make the information even more useful.

A number of different government departments and public bodies fund the survey by paying to ask questions.

Your personal data will only be used for research and statistical purposes. This means you will never receive any sales or marketing calls as a result of taking part in the survey.

Participation is not a statutory or contractual requirement.

The legal basis for processing

The legal basis for processing the data is ‘legitimate interest’.

The data controller

The National Centre for Social Research is the data controller for the British Social Attitudes survey.

Sharing your personal information

An anonymised version of the data set with the information collected in the online and optional telephone survey is provided to funders and archived with the UK Data Service, where it is accessible to people for research purposes. Your answers will not be identifiable in this data. 

The information collected by the researcher assigned to your address will not be provided to funders and will not be archived with the UK Data Service. This data will be used to inform the development of the survey in the future. You will not be identifiable in any findings or reports.

Data retention period

Your name and contact information will be deleted by November 2023.

The rest of the collected survey data will be securely stored for an indefinite period and used in scientific studies by researchers, students and others interested in opinion and social attitudes in the UK and other countries.

Contact us

If you have any queries, contact us:

Data Protection Officer
NatCen Social Research
Kings House,
101-135 Kings Rd,
Brentwood
CM14 4LX
Email: dpo@natcen.ac.uk

Data Protection Officers are responsible for upholding your rights and making sure we process your information correctly.

Concerns about how we are using your information

If you have any concerns about the processing of your information, contact the Data Protection Regulator:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House,
Water Lane,
Wilmslow,
Cheshire,
SK9 5AF,

Helpline number: 0303 123 1113
Email: www.ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/email
Website: www.ico.org.uk