The 2017 QESB Research Proposal
The 2017 Qualitative Election Study of Britain will be part of the longitudinal series of the QESB project which has data series in 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016 – at each of the major elections or referenda that have been held in the UK during this period.
This round of the study will include two innovations:
— systematically examining the issue of identity, voting, and public opinion post-Brexit – which has not been undertaken in the 12 months since the EU referendum;
— conducting online focus groups to capture ‘shy Tories’ and ‘shy Kippers’ (UKIP supporters) who are difficult to recruit in quantitative surveys and qualitative research.
Both innovations will help us gather data of immediate interest to academics and policy makers on how ordinary voters perceive their own identities (British, European, and national), on their support for political parties, and their opinions of British politics since the EU referendum. They will also provide us valuable information on conducting focus groups with hard-to-recruit populations.
The proposed fieldwork will consist of 33 focus groups conducted before and after the UK General Election 2017 in England, Scotland, and Wales across 12 locations over four weeks. 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, 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. Interviews will be used to examine participants’ political preferences and vote choices in depth.
A small incentive will be offered (£10-£20) to increase participation rates. The focus groups will last for 60 minutes and will take place in the evening and online 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 2017 will be developed in consultation with our Advisory Board members. The QESB 2017 interview schedule will replicate the 2005 focus groups and QESB 2010 and 2015 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 2017 study will be combined with and harmonized to the 2015, 2010 and 2005 data and deposited with the Archive.