Survey Link Scheme

Survey Link Scheme logo The Survey Link Scheme was an ESRC training resource run from the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey from 2002 to 2007. The scheme, which began in 1981 under the Directorship of Professor Aubrey McKennell, aimed to make researchers, postgraduate students and teachers of research methodology more aware of the issues that occur during survey fieldwork carried out by professional social survey organisations.

About the Survey Link Scheme

The Survey Link Scheme aimed to bring postgraduate students and researchers interested in social survey research closer to the fieldwork process of surveys carried out by the large scale UK professional survey organisations such as the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), the British Market Research Bureau International and GfK NOP.

This is vital for those interested in survey research due to the large gap of understanding that exists between academic surveys and those carried out by survey agencies. All researchers, postgraduate students and teachers of research methods could gain from participation in the scheme. Participants learned about the gathering of data including:

  • how survey interviewers are briefed before embarking on the fieldwork
  • how questionnaires are administered in the field
  • how interviewers approach respondents
  • how interviewers deal with nonresponse
  • what a Computer Assisted Personal Interview questionnaire looks like
  • how respondents react to the interviewers questions.

This was achieved in two stages, a one-day briefing workshop and then an optional day shadowing an interviewer.


The one-day workshops were held throughout the UK. Each workshop focused on a different survey. The day consisted of a briefing on the Question Bank, information about Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing and the software Blaise. In the afternoon a guest speaker from the survey agency gave an overview of the survey before moving on to discuss issues to do with the interview, the questionnaire and general data collection. All participants were given a chance to gain hands on experience of working through the questionnaire as if they were a respondent in the field.


This optional part of the scheme allowed the participant to go out into the field with an experienced interviewer to shadow them for the day. Fieldwork is arranged near to the participant's home base.

How to access the data

The Scheme is now operated within the Survey Resources Network which co-ordinates and develops ESRC activities related to survey methodologies and research. It is part of the network's Survey Skills Programme.

Visit the Survey Link Scheme website.

Further information