FAQs - Coronavirus Study

Is this different to the annual survey?

Yes. This is a shorter monthly survey that focuses on the coronavirus / Covid-19 pandemic, and how this is affecting our lives.

The Coronavirus pandemic is a shock to society that perhaps has no precedent since the last world war. While it is most immediately a public health emergency, it is already clear that it will also have long-lasting social and economic consequences that will significantly impact the welfare and wellbeing of individuals, families, businesses, and communities in the future.

By completing a short 20-minute survey each month, you will help researchers:

  • track how the virus is impacting our lives month-by-month
  • see the effect of changes in government guidelines on hygiene and social distancing on our lives
  • understand the effect of the government financial support schemes
  • design policies to help people deal with the effects of the coronavirus.

In addition to the annual survey, we would like to invite you each month to take part in a short survey to see what effect the coronavirus is having on your life and the lives of those around you.

How long will it take?

It will take around 20 minutes each month to complete the survey.

Will I be rewarded for taking part?

When you answer the survey for the first time, our survey partners for this project Ipsos MORI will create a ‘reward account’ in your name. Every month that you are able to answer the survey you will be credited with £2. You will be able to exchange the reward amount for a range of gift-cards and electronic vouchers at any point – so you can spend it each month or let it increase month after month. You will be able to exchange it for e-vouchers or digital codes which can be used at Amazon, Argos, Costa, Debenhams, Google Play, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and others.

How will I be invited to take part?

We will send the invitation to the online survey by email and SMS text message, depending on what contact information we have for you. If you haven’t given us your email address or mobile telephone number, or you want to update the contact information we have for you, then you can do that at https://www.understandingsociety.ac.uk/participants/update

If you cannot access the internet to participate in the Coronavirus Study, there will be an opportunity for you to share your experiences with us during the year by telephone.

How can I opt-out of the monthly Understanding Society Coronavirus Study?

If you want to opt-out of receiving the invitations to the monthly Coronavirus Study, you can do that by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email invite. Please select which method of contact you want to unsubscribe from. If you have time, we would be interested in hearing from you about why you are opting out, so please let us know in the text box. It may take a week to process the opt-out, and so you may receive one or two reminders after you’ve unsubscribed. This won’t affect your participation in the main Understanding Society annual interview.

Whom can I contact if I have problems accessing the survey?

If you have been invited to take part in the monthly online survey please contact Ipsos MORI on undcorona@ipsos.com or 0800 141 3656.

If you have been invited to take part in a telephone interview this month please contact Kantar by telephone on 0800 015 2908.

Does what you are doing have ethical approval?

The Understanding Society study has been approved by the University of Essex Ethics Committee. This Committee has examined the whole survey process and have approved the questions, as well as how the data are dealt with once they have been collected.

Are my data confidential?

Yes, Understanding Society is being conducted in accordance with the Data Protection Act. This means your personal details will be kept strictly confidential and you and your household will not be identifiable from the data. Please read our article on confidentiality.

I’ve moved house or am about to move. Can I still take part?

Yes, definitely. Please let us know of your new address by filling the Change of Address form on our website. You will receive a £5 voucher for letting us know your new address.

I haven’t moved house, but I have got a new email address or mobile number.

You can let us know about a new email address, or a new mobile telephone number, by using the “Update Email or Mobile” form at https://www.understandingsociety.ac.uk/participants/update

What is the GDPR?

The GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation. It was approved by the European Parliament on 14th April 2016 and came into enforcement on 25th May 2018. The Data Protection Bill (2018) brought the GDPR into British law, and is part of the Data Protection Act 2018.

How does Understanding Society currently keep data safe?

We are already governed by the current Data Protection Act and all of our procedures have data protection at the centre. In addition to the Data Protection Act, the Institute for Social and Economic Research, which hosts Understanding Society, has ISO-27001 certification. This is the international standard that describes best practice for an Information Security Management System. This requires the study to have a wide set of rules and regulations about how we manage data.

As well as having our information security management procedures documented, we are also independently audited annually and have to undergo re-certification every three years to make sure that we are following the requirements of the standard. Our fieldwork partner for this monthly Coronavirus Study – Ipsos MORI – have also achieved ISO-27001 certification. These procedures ensure that all efforts are taken to maintain the security of your data.

How will the GDPR affect Understanding Society?

The GDPR is slightly different – it is focused more on the rules under which we process and use your personal details. It sets out the duties and responsibilities we have to you, and your rights regarding the data that we hold and process.

The Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex is the data controller for the study. The fieldwork for the study is contracted to Ipsos MORI who act as the data processors.

Since the Understanding Society study is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and both the ESRC and the University of Essex are Public Bodies, we use Public Task as the lawful basis for processing this data. Personal data are not transferred outside the European Economic Area (EEA), to ensure that they are protected by the strong EEA data protection laws. Our compliance with all the relevant legislation, and our externally certified accreditation to the international ISO27001 standard, provide you with assurance that your data is secured and protected in the strongest possible manner.

What happens to my personal data?

Your personal details (name, address, telephone numbers, email addresses) are only used so that we can contact you during the year to send you information on how the survey is being used by researchers, and to invite you to participate. These details are never made available to researchers or to any other companies who might use them for marketing purposes. For more information, see our Privacy Notice.

The answers you give us to the survey are securely transferred from Ipsos MORI to ISER, using an encrypted online portal. To preserve your anonymity, personal details (your name, date of birth, address, telephone number, email address) are removed from the survey data and held securely in an encrypted database to which only a small number of people have access. Your survey answers are put together with the answers from thousands of other participants and, in an anonymised format, are deposited with the UK Data Service. There is no information on the data which can identify you.

Any analysis is done on the whole sample, and results are often quoted in terms of specific percentages of people, and are not reported as individual answers. The collected survey responses are made available, through the UK Data Service, to researchers who must register with the Data Service.

What happens if I withdraw from the survey?

You are under no statutory or contractual obligation to provide us with your personal data. You have the right at any time to withdraw from the survey. If you do this, you will no longer be contacted by us. Any survey responses you have given us in the past, and which have already been made available from the UK Data Service will remain, but no additional information about you will be deposited. Your contact details will no longer be used, but will be kept archived to ensure that we do not contact you again on the occasion that there is an additional sample added to the study, or we start a new study.

Is my information secure when I answer the survey online?

Yes. The information you provide online is secure. The information you give us is downloaded on to secure servers and transferred from Ipsos MORI to ISER using an encrypted online portal which is only accessed by a small number of individuals.

Any questions?

If you have any questions about the security of your personal details, you may contact our Information Technology and Security Manager – Ray Ware – by email r.ware@essex.ac.uk

If you have any questions about participating in the monthly Coronavirus Study, please contact our partners for this study, Ipsos MORI on undcorona@ipsos.com or 0800 141 3656.