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Data collection changes at the Central Statistics Office due to COVID-19

Data Collection Infographic image

Key Findings:

  • People who were contacted by telephone by the CSO were the most likely to complete a survey
  • Gmail web addresses were the most common accounts used by respondents
  • Those who responeded online were more likely to do so between the hours of 6pm to 2am

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Central Statistics Office’s (CSO) method of collecting vital data has had to change. Before the introduction of guidelines restricting people’s movements, more than 100 CSO interviewers would visit 30,000 households every three months. However, all field work must now be carried out by letter, telephone and online instead of face-to-face.

For the Social Impact of COVID-19 Survey Wave 2, published 25 June, the data was collected and published over a two-week period using a variety of methods. This shows how important the collection of timely, relevant data is to the CSO.

People who were selected to take part in the Social Impact Survey were respondents who had previously taken part in our Labour Force Survey and had agreed to partake in other CSO surveys. Those who indicated they would like to participate in further surveys were invited to take part in our COVID-19 Social Survey.

Respondents were contacted in three ways. The primary method of contact was to send prospective respondents an email with a link to our survey. This method proved to be the least successful with a 37% response rate.

Secondly, a letter of invitation was sent to a sub-sample of respondents giving them the background to the survey and details of the email they would receive which had a link to the survey. This method was more successful with a 46% response rate.

The most successful method was when another sub-sample were contacted by CSO staff by telephone and invited to complete the survey via the phone. This had a 56% response rate.

The data tells us that more than 50% of email /web responses were submitted between the hours of 6pm and 2am. People with a Gmail address accounted for 67% of all such responses. A further 22% of people replied using a Hotmail, Yahoo or an Eircom account.

When people responded to the survey by telephone, they tended to do so between the hours of 9am and 6pm. The average time for an interview was approximately 12 minutes.

Fiona O'Riordan, Head of Division - Social Collection at the CSO, said: ‘Analysing how people respond to our surveys is really important to the CSO as we continue to modernise our processes and provide different platforms to collect data. It is also important to find out the most effective ways to communicate with people to ensure they respond and complete our surveys.

While it is understandable that response rates have fallen at this difficult time, low response rates affect the quality of the information collected. That is why the CSO is looking at the best ways in which to collect data. We are also calling on people to play their part in telling Ireland’s story if contacted by the CSO.

Our surveys are 100% confidential and your personal details are never shared with any government departments or organisations.

The information gathered helps inform decision-making across a range of areas including health, welfare, the environment and the economy. Collecting information now is of particular significance due to the seismic shift our society is undergoing as a result of COVID-19. If you are asked, please participate in a confidential CSO survey as they have vital national importance.’