2015 QESB

Dr. Edzia Carvalho, Principal Investigator
Dr. Kristi Winters, International Co-investigator

The 2015 QESB Research Proposal

Abstract:
Findings from the Qualitative Election Study of Britain (QESB) 2010 have shown that the set responses used in election surveys are unable to capture the complexities of why people vote the way they do. We propose leading a team of experts and specialists to conduct, analyse and publish data that directly answers identified research questions on elections, has wide research and policy relevance, and significant impact.The QESB 2015 investigators will conduct 20 focus groups and additional follow-up interviews in England, Scotland, and Wales during the campaign and after voting day. If funded, the QESB will become the first (and only) qualitative dataset to investigate political attitudes and voting behaviour over 3 consecutive general elections in Britain. Publications from the project will include new research on party political leaders, vote choice and devolution, and strategic voting. A book on the research design of the QESB and its findings and a longitudinal qualitative dataset (2005-2015) with a new metadata structure will also be published to encourage reuse and replication.

Proposed programme:
In addition to collecting data on the 2015 general election, we would use this funding to create the first-ever longitudinal (i.e. over 3 general elections) qualitative dataset on British elections. We will replicate and enhance the work of the Qualitative Election Study of Britain (QESB) 2010 (British Academy grant number SG090860) and the 2005 study on political attitudes (British Academy grant number 40355) (permission from grant PI, Dr. R. Campbell has already been obtained).

Methodology:
13 pre-election and 7 post-election focus groups will be conducted between April and May 2015. Pre-election participants will be invited to participate in the post-election focus groups. Dates and locations of the focus groups will be determined after consultation with our Advisory Board members who have agreed to assist with the logistics. Participants will be recruited using snowball and convenience sampling using Amazon’s MechanicalTurk, email lists, and referrals. Potential participants will fill in a pre-event questionnaire and we will select participants to achieve an overall pool that broadly reflects the British population. Follow-up interviews will examine participants’ political preferences and vote choices in depth.

A small incentive will be offered (£30-£40) to increase participation rates. The focus groups will last for 90 minutes and will take place in the evening to allow full-time workers the option to participate. Participants will receive written information on informed consent and procedures used to ensure their anonymity. These details and forms will be reviewed verbally at the start of each focus group.

The precise wording of the core semi-structured interview schedule for the pre- and post-election QESB 2015 will be developed in consultation with our Advisory Board members and with input from our partners, QSR International (the makers of the qualitative software, NVivo) and the UK Electoral Commission. The QESB 2015 interview schedule will replicate the 2005 focus groups and QESB 2010 study questions to preserve the longitudinal series. To maintain responsiveness of data collection to events unfolding during the campaign, question space will be preserved on the focus group and interview schedule (equivalent to one long or two short questions), the wording for which will be determined nearer the election.

The focus groups will be recorded with digital and audio equipment. Transcriptions will be produced for textual analysis. The video, audio, and written data will be filed with the UK Data Archive with the appropriate confidentiality requirements. Data from the 2015 study will be combined with and harmonized to the 2010 and 2005 data and deposited with the Archive.  In consultation with Libby Bishop at the UK Data Archive we will develop a metadata structure for the QESB data that allows users to more quickly and easily identify research data. We will extend our collaboration with QSR International who will advise us on data planning and management and help develop a QESB 2015 dataset for use in NVivo software training worldwide.

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