The project will use focus group research to involve local communities in understanding the impact of the Scottish Referendum on their Scottish/British identities, the future of Scotland post-referendum, and on the polity in Scotland and the UK. It will provide an opportunity for the two campaigns, Better Together and Yes Scotland to publically reflect on campaign itself, and the reasons for their success and failure. In bringing these two sources of information together we will compare and contrast these expert opinions with the voters they sought to win over.
The project will comprise of three key elements:
- Two focus groups to be held in Dundee in late October 2014;
- Face-to-face engagement through a symposium held in Edinburgh on the lines of the Harvard Decision Makers Conference; and
- Virtual engagement through project website, print and audio-visual media, and social media.
Focus group participants will be recruited through snowballing and internet based recruitment techniques from within and around Dundee. Dundee has been chosen for the variation in the composition of the marginality of the constituencies within and near the city. The two focus groups (reviewed and approved by the University’s research ethics committee) will include 10 participants each and will last for 90 minutes. Participants will be paid £25 for their contribution. Members of the press will be invited to cover the focus groups on the condition that the anonymity of the participants is respected. Respondents will be asked to recount their views of Independence before the vote, which events or issues they recall as being important, the considerations in their decision, the experience of voting, reactions to the result and what the results mean to them and the future of Scotland.
The Edinburgh Symposium will consist of a public roundtable with two academic speakers and one representative each from the Better Together and Yes Scotland campaigns. The post-referendum focus groups’ reactions and our analysis of the comments will inform and direct the symposium discussions. Participants in the focus groups, local NGOs, MSPs, MEPs, and members of the public will be invited to participate in the roundtable.
Virtual engagement with multiple local communities will take place via the project website, print and audio-visual media, and social media. The engagement will consist of three sub-elements:
- Transcript confirmation: Focus group participants will have the opportunity to engage with their own data after the primary fieldwork has been completed. Restricted access to the preliminary transcripts via the project website will be provided to the focus group participants for the purpose of 1) confirming (but not altering) the transcriptions and clarifying inaudible comments and 2) providing clarification of any ambiguous subtext raised by the investigators. These post-collection clarifications will be added as a distinct part of the qualitative dataset.
- Interactive webpage where members of the public may submit their own accounts of their vote choice on Independence and their voting experiences. We will routinely send out national press releases on the focus groups research and the symposium and will publicise this voluntary submissions aspect of the website. Anonymized submissions will be available on the website and form a distinct qualitative dataset.
- Interactive engagement via social media: In addition to disseminating information on the focus groups and Symposium, Facebook and Twitter pages will be used to obtain popular opinions on the referendum and to solicit research questions from the public for future research.
Project outputs will include:
- Publication of our report of the post-Independence focus groups analysis;
- Presentation of the report to MSPs, referendum campaigns and Electoral Commission;
- Podcast of Edinburgh Symposium;
- Press and media coverage of engagement activities;
- Anonymized qualitative dataset comprising of the post-Independence vote focus group transcripts and volunteer Independence voting accounts, a copy to be deposited with the UK Data Archive.
- 5 Million Questions on the Scottish Referendum – examine the post-referendum aspects of the issue
- Qualitative Election Study of Britain (QESB) – focus group participants will be invited to participate in the Scottish focus groups to be held during the 2015 General Election campaign to provide a rich and contextual examination of their opinions and voting during the 2015 general elections
- Qualitative studies before the referendum being conducted by Ipsos Mori