ESRC Question Bank

Question Bank logoThe Question Bank (Qb) was an ESRC-funded resource that provided an open access resource to enable researchers, students and teachers of survey methods to learn about UK social survey research. The Qb was based in the Department of Sociology, University of Surrey.

About the ESRC Question Bank

The Question Bank mission statement states that:

"The Question Bank (Qb) provides, via the World Wide Web, a resource for the UK social science community covering issues about professional social survey data collection, social measurement using surveys, and information about the design of survey questionnaires. Qb aims to play a role in bridging the gap between academics and professional survey agencies."

The Qb website is divided into four main areas: questionnaires, topics, resources and data collection.


The Qb provides information about, and access to, the questionnaires from a wide range of UK-based social surveys. Most of these surveys have been carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) or the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER). As such they produce highly tried and tested questionnaires which demonstrate best practice for social researchers. There are also a limited number of European surveys on the website.

For each survey listed there is an overview page which details the organisation that was responsible for the survey, the main aims and objectives of the survey, a brief history and methodology. There are also links to the datasets provided by the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS). Where a survey has been carried out more than once the Qb has an additional web page for each year, wave or round, detailing the topics covered, sample sizes, fieldwork dates and data collection methods used. From these pages the user is linked to the original questionnaires for that year and associated material such as show cards, advanced letters and information leaflets.


Using a list of 22 key social science topics (including crime, health, education, social attitudes, religion and social class), users can access information on quantitative social measurement. This includes commentary by experts, chapters of a book titled Key Variables in Social Investigation and links and bibliographies for further research work.


The resources section of the site has information on the Qb resource, its history and a user guide as well as information on teaching presentations about the resource. It also houses survey information including a guide to Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing, information on the ONS Harmonisation Initiative and a link to the Post Code Address file web pages.

Data Collection

This area houses a number of factsheets with information on survey data collection methods. These are designed for users with little knowledge of survey data collection wishing to learn more. This area also has a number of general survey links.


Accessing individual questions through the Qb can also be achieved by using the search engine.

How to access this service

Visit the Question Bank website.

The Qb does NOT contain any survey data. It does contain information about how social survey data are collected. Most of the surveys that are featured in the Qb have datasets deposited at the UK Data Archive and each page contains links to the respective dataset.

Further information

You can register to join the Qb mailing list and receive updates on Qb news and events by going to the Surrey Listserv website and subscribing to

  • Question Bank
    Department of Sociology, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH
    Telephone: +44 (0)1483 682788
    Fax: +44 (0)1483 682796

  • ESRC resources team
    Telephone: 01793 413180