Cultural and technological change has made the web a possible and even desirable mode for complex social surveys, but the financial challenges faced by the Research Councils and the UK Government has accelerated this shift, creating an urgent need to explore both its potential and hazards for a range of studies. While some progress in carrying out large-scale complex social surveys on the web has been made, there is still no consensus about how this can best be achieved while maintaining population representativeness and preserving data quality. To address this problem, the NCRM funded a network of methodological innovation “Web Surveys for the General Population: How, Why and When?” (also known by its acronym GenPopWeb). A key objective of the network’s activities was to review and synthesise existing knowledge about the use of web-based data collection for general population samples and to identify areas where new research is needed.
The network “Web Surveys for the General Population: Why, How and When?” was supported with funding from the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods under the initiative Networks for Methodological Innovation 2012. We are also grateful to the Institute of Education and the University of Essex for hosting the two main events of the network. We would like to thank all of the presenters at the events as well as the participants for their contribution. Particular thanks are due to the UK Core Group for their time, advice and support: Bill Blyth, TNS Global Mario Callegaro, Google UK Ed Dunn & Laura Wilson, ONS Rory Fitzgerald, City University London Joanna Lake, ESRC Carli Lessof & Joel Williams, TNS BMRB Nick Moon, GfK NOP Patten Smith, Ipsos MORI Professor Patrick Sturgis, NCRM Joe Twyman & Michael Wagstaff, YouGov UK