National Centre for Research Methods - Hub (Second Term)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: School of Social Sciences


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.
Description The National Centre for Research Methods had a 'hub and node' structure, with the coordinating hub based at the university of Southampton and the nodes based at the Universities of Surrey, Bristol, London School of Economics, Institute for Fiscal Studies, Institute of Education, Leeds, Manchester, University College London, Imperial College, Lancaster, Warwick, and Sterling. The research programme of the centre was carried out by the nodes, with the hub at Southampton undertaking a coordinating function. The main research findings associated with this award are reported on in the ResearchFish entries for the node awards.

The research programme of the NCRM hub comprised four components.

1. The hub carrried out a number of strategic assessments of methodological research and training needs in the UK and these were used to inform the Centre's and ESRC's training strategy and research commissioning in the area of research methods.

2. The hub also undertook a small programme of research into methodological innovation, which resulted in a number of academic publications. There is a great deal of emphasis on innovation in the area of research methodology in the social sciences, yet it is not always clear what innovation means. Indeed, it appears to mean different things to different actors. This research has provided useful insight into what is meant by innovation in social science methodology.

3. The hub carried out four small collaborative research projects with the NCRM nodes. One, joint with the LEMMA3 node, developed methods for analysing the relationship between social class and cognitive development. Another developed methods for capturing and analysing data on daily patterns of commuting and social activity. A third worked on methods for analysing so-called 'paradata' that is produced during the course of survey interviews, while a fourth produced new methods for measuring public trust in medical practitioners.

5. Based on the Centre's assessments of methodological research needs in the UK, eleven methodological innovation projects were commissioned through an open competition. The following projects were funded:

Estimating matching variable error rates and match probabilities for linkage of large administrative data sources, Professor R Gilbert, University College London

Methodological Innovation in Digital Arts and Social Sciences (MIDAS), Professor C Jewitt, Institute of Education, University of London

Integrating emerging smartphone and genetic initiatives to produce cost-effective, innovative methodology, Dr Aleksandr Kogan, University of Cambridge

Item nonresponse and measurement error in cross-national surveys: Methods of data collection and analysis, Dr J Kuha, London School of Economics and Political Science

Understanding nonresponse on Understanding Society, Professor P Lynn, University of Essex

Linking cohort study data to administrative records: the challenges of consent and coverage, Dr T Mostafa, Institute of Education, University of London

Communicating chronic pain: Interdisciplinary methods for non-textual data, Dr J Tarr, London School of Economics and Political Science

Face 2 Face: tracing the real and the mediated in children's cultural worlds, Professor R Thomson, University of Sussex

Towards a social media science: Tools and methodologies, Professor D Weir, University of Sussex

The potential of video telephony in qualitative longitudinal research: A participatory and interactionist approach to assessing remoteness and rapport, Dr S Weller, London South Bank University

Social media and prediction: Crime sensing, data integration and statistical modelling, Dr M Williams, Cardiff University

These projects are now all completed and an evaluation of their outputs and impacts is being undertaken. The findings of this evaluation will be added to ResearchFish when they are available.
Exploitation Route The Centre carried out a number of strategic assessments of national strategic research and training needs which have helped to shape national policy in methodological research and training in the social sciences.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice

Title Townsend Research Archive 
Description The Townsend archive provides open access to a range of original documents underlying the 1968/69 Poverty in the UK survey led by Peter Townsend. This survey pioneered the application of relative deprivation in measuring poverty and Townsend's subsequent book, published in 1979, laid the groundwork for contemporary understandings of poverty. The archive includes all of the surviving questionnaires from the survey, over 2,500 in total. On these questionnaires you will find hand-written notes made, at the time of the interview, by the survey field workers. They provide telling details of the living standards and attitudes of that time. The archive also covers a range of other papers associated with the administration and conception of the survey and notes and drafts of Townsend's book. In this section you will also find video interviews with a range of people involved in, or associated with, the Poverty in the UK survey, reflecting back on this landmark project. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact These documents and interviews provide unparalleled insights into survey and research methods then and now, the relationship between social policy research and policy making across the last 45 years, and the impact, or otherwise, of research on tackling poverty.