ESS:n johtoryhmän 1-2.2.2000 kokouksen pöytäkirja

European Social Survey
Meeting of the Steering Committee
1-2 February 2000, ESF, Strasbourg, France


Professor M. Kaase (Germany), Chairman
Professor R. Åberg (Sweden)
Professor J. Billiet (Belgium, FWO)
Dr. P. Desmarez (Belgium, FNRS)
Professor N. Diamandouros (Greece)
Professor H. Domanski (Poland)
Professor Y. Esmer (Turkey)
Professor P. Farago (Switzerland)
Dr. T. Friedberg (Denmark)
Professor S. Kuhnle (Norway)
Professor M. Marsh (Ireland)
Professor J. Ramón Montero (Spain)
Professor L. Nordberg (Finland)
Professor S. Schwartz (Israel)
Dr. I. Stoop (The Netherlands)
Dr. E. Tall (Hungary)
Professor N. Tos (Slovenia)
Mr M. Warren (United Kingdom)

Dr. J.H. Smith (ESF)
Ms. G. Schauinger (ESF)

Professor A. Brandao Moniz (Portugal)
Dr. B. Cautrès (France)
Professor R. Jowell (UK), Chairman, Methodology Committee
Professor G. Martinotti (Italy)
Dr. K.H. Müller (Austria)
Professor M. Laver (Ireland)
Dr. Niels Ploug (Denmark)
Professor F. Thys-Clément (Belgium, FNRS)

Item 1 - Welcome and Opening Remarks
The Chairman, Professor Max Kaase, welcomed members to the first meeting of the re-constituted Steering Committee. He thanked members for their commitment to developing the European Social Survey whose first stage, the preparation of the scientific blueprint, had been completed successfully. The new task of the Steering Committee was now to identify and implement the necessary steps to achieve the launching of the European Social Survey for two initial waves as a pilot phase.

He welcomed two new members. Dr. Eva Tall (Hungary) and Professor Michael Marsh (Ireland) who was attending on behalf of Professor Michael Laver.

Item 2 - Minutes of the Previous Meeting (14-15 December 1998, Lisbon, Portugal)
The Chairman reported that these minutes had already been subject to Members' comments and approved last year. They were circulated again for information.

Item 3 - Notes of the Methodology Committee Meeting (9 April 1999, Paris, France)
The notes of the meeting were approved. It was acknowledged that there had been delays in the commissioning of some papers addressing key elements in the ESS core questionnaire. Follow-up contacts with contributors would be made urgently in order to try to secure the completion of the papers as soon as possible.

Item 4 - Matters arising
The Committee noted the background document 'up-date on 1999 developments', which informed members of the progress made since the last Steering Committee meeting. The Chairman drew attention to the general support gained from the ESF Standing Committee for the Social Sciences (SCSS) for the implementation of the European Social Survey at its meeting in October 1999. Prior to this meeting, important preparatory discussions had taken place with senior officials from ESF Member Organisations at the annual meeting with the SCSS Core Group in June 1999 in Dublin. The implementation of the European Social Survey was proceeding on the principle of a jointly funded research facility, with national survey fieldwork costs covered by national research councils/funding agencies and the central research costs covered by the European Commission through an application to the Fifth Framework Research Programme.

It was noted also that SCSS at its October 1999 meeting, had agreed that priority should be given to funding the continuing work of the ESS Steering Committee from the ESF General Budget 2000 when the present 'à la carte' funding was exhausted. FRF200,000 had been set aside for this purpose.

Item 5 - 'Tour de Table' of Steering Committee members to report on the state of planning for the mounting of the ESS national survey fieldwork in Spring 2001
The Chairman invited members to report on the state-of-play in their respective countries (the notes below reflect both members' oral remarks and subsequently submitted brief written statements).

United Kingdom. Mr. Warren reported that the ESRC Resources Board had agreed to participate and had set aside funds for the first two survey waves. This decision was subject to important conditions being met and these had been conveyed to ESF in a letter of 30 November 1999, as follows:

  • ESRC needs to be satisfied of the arrangements for the management of the central facility and co-ordination of the survey at national levels.
  • ESRC also needs to be satisfied of the arrangements regarding intellectual property rights.
  • ESF needs to secure funding for the central facility without damaging the academic value of the survey.
  • ESRC needs to be satisfied that the survey would complement other surveys including: The European Community Household Survey (ECHP) and The International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) and would not duplicate but offer coherence with existing data collection activities including the British Household Panel Survey.
  • Detailed costings setting out targets and deliverables against the planned resources being provided.
  • ESRC agreement is subject to the eventual funding package including the participation of several key European Member States.

A tendering procedure would be required to decide upon the survey fieldwork agency and a period of up to six months should be allowed for this.

Slovenia. Professor Tos reported that the Slovenian Science Foundation had indicated that they will support the national survey. His team would be responsible and they had already substantial relevant experience with the conduct of the ISSP survey.

Hungary. Dr. Tall indicated that the Hungarian Academy of Sciences were likely to support the first two waves of the ESS Survey. The Principal Investigator and survey team were currently being identified and a tender would be submitted to the National Scientific Research Council.

The Netherlands. Dr. Stoop indicated that a proposal had already been submitted to the NWO under its 'Large Investments Program'. The proposal included a request for funding two surveys (2001 and 2003) and a methodology 'laboratory' to test survey questions. The proposal has been submitted by a research consortium based at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences of the University of Amsterdam which would house secretary support facilities and the principal investigator. The NWO were now undertaking the peer review process and the NWO Research Council for the Social Sciences will reach a recommendation that is then conveyed to the NWO Central Board. A positive recommendation would then proceed in March to the Ministry of Education and Sciences for funding decision.

Israel. Professor Schwartz reported that the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities had written to ESF expressing its decision, in principle, to participate in the ESS. Since there was no social science research council in Israel, the Academy would seek to secure funding from the Council for Higher Education to cover the national fieldwork survey costs. The key issue to resolve firstly was the selection of the principal investigator because he/she would have to decide upon the tendering organisation for the survey. He indicated that in his judgement the securing of finances could take at least 12 months.

Finland. Professor Nordberg stated that the Academy of Finland, in its 5-year plan, had reserved funding for both data collection and research groups' future working on the ESS data (for the first survey 'wave' but it was recognised that a second wave was planned). The principal researcher would be chosen on the basis of applications from interested researchers and research institutes. The same procedure will apply for choosing research groups who seek funds to undertake research using the ESS data. The National Data Archive for the Social Sciences will be responsible for the dissemination of the data to all interested researchers/institutes in Finland. As in the case of most other countries, Finnish support for national fieldwork/survey costs was conditional upon achieving ESS Blueprint recommendation for joint funding with EU covering central research costs.

Spain. Professor Montero reported that the Oficina de Ciencia y Tecnologia (OCYT) would consider ESS fieldwork survey costs under its Special Scientific Programme funding. The application would be subject to the regular external peer review process, and the timing of the application was flexible as there were no specific closing dates. The decision had been taken that an ESS conducted in Spain should also include additional sub-samples in some autonomous regions. This would provide a unique opportunity to disseminate to both Spanish and other European social researchers comparative survey data with important regional dimensions that are most relevant in Spain.

Ireland. Attending on behalf of Professor Michael Laver, Professor Marsh indicated that funding had already been awarded for two surveys, one of which was intended to be the first wave of ESS and the other on election study. The research team was based in Trinity College and University College Dublin and Professor Richard Sinnott and himself were the principal investigators for both surveys. The process of putting the fieldwork out to tender was now underway.

He pointed out a potential timing/scheduling problem in that the funds had to be spent by the end of 2002. There was uncertainty over the timing of the next election which could be held anytime up until Spring 2002. It would not be possible to conduct both surveys in 2002, consequently the likelihood was that the ESS related survey would need to be run in 2001. If there were delays with national survey funding in other ESS participating countries or the European Union financing, the Irish ESS could be run as a pilot study (i.e. according to ESS Blueprint specifications and preferably including the ESS core module questions).

Norway. Professor Kuhnle confirmed that the Norwegian Research Council (Board for Culture and Society) at its October 1999 meeting had agreed to participate in ESS on condition that EU funding of central research costs was forthcoming. He indicated that the Norwegian Social Science Data Archive (NSD) together with the central Bureau of Statistics were likely to be involved in the conduct of the national survey, dissemination of data etc. No decision had yet been made on the principal investigator and research team.

Denmark. Attending on behalf of Dr. Ploug, Dr. Fridberg reported that the Danish Research Council for the Social Sciences have decided to participate in ESS on the understanding that a broad base of countries also join, and that EU joint funding is achieved. In January this year, the Council decided to convene a meeting of all interested parties (research institutions) to discuss how the Danish component can be planned and financed.

Switzerland. Dr. Farago stated that the Swiss situation was somewhat similar to the case of Ireland. Funds are reserved for the two initial ESS survey waves within the current Swiss National Science Foundation priority programme - "Demain la Suisse". Since this programme would end in 2003, it was preferable that the two initial ESS survey waves are conducted in 2001 and 2003. If the launching of ESS were delayed beyond 2001, hence only one 'wave' could be funded in the programme. The Swiss research team would most probably be situated at SIDOS (Neuchatel) the Swiss Data archive, and be the same team that conducted the ISSP.

Turkey. Professor Esmer reported that the Turkish Academy (TUBITAK) were very interested in participating in the ESS but were only likely to be able to provide a small proportion of the funding needed for the national survey fieldwork costs. As the ESS Steering Committee member, he would be consulting with private foundations to raise the remainder of the funding. A key issue to be resolved concerned the composition of the national research team but he expected that this would draw from expertise within his University. He emphasised that EU financial support for the central research costs would be an important factor in seeking some matching funds from the Academy.

Poland. Professor Domanski indicated that he was likely to be the principal investigator for the conduct of the ESS survey in Poland and he, together with his team, would apply for funding to the Polish Grant Agency. An initial application would have to seek funding for the first survey 'wave' only, followed by subsequent applications. He recognised that his position as principal investigator required that Polish Member Organisations would have to appoint another member to the ESS Steering Committee.

Greece. Professor Diamandouros reported that the Greek ESF Member Organisation (National Hellenic Research Foundation) had indicated their willingness to fund the first ESS survey wave. As in the case of most countries, EU partnership on funding central research costs was a crucial determinant in achieving national support for fieldwork survey costs. It was envisaged that the National Centre for Social Research would be responsible for the national survey and consequently will decide on whether to tender for the fieldwork or undertake this with an 'in-house' team.

Belgium. Professor Billiet and Dr. Desmarez confirmed that both ESF Member Organisations (FNRS and FWO) will support a national survey, at least for the first wave. Funding would be subject to three conditions: (i) the global ESS project must involve many European countries, (ii) the ESS central research costs must be funded by EU, and (iii) a high quality scientific proposal must be submitted through regular channels. It was pointed out that privacy law requirements must be met and that this would only be possible once the scientific proposal and its content had been approved by the national funding bodies, and such access might take up to 12 months. It was planned that the ESS project in Belgium would be jointly conducted by a Flemish speaking team (supported by FWO) and a French speaking team (supported by FNRS).

Sweden. Professor Aberg reported that the ESS survey in Sweden was likely to be funded on a shared cost basis between SCSR and HSFR. There will be a commitment to support the first two survey waves and similar conditions will apply on the need for EU support for central research costs and an optimum number of European countries joining. Statistics Sweden were likely to be involved in the conduct of the fieldwork.

Germany. Professor Kaase reported that the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) had already indicated earlier on, that it would be willing to fund the ESS for the initial period of two survey ways. This hinged, of course, also on the willingness of other countries to join the ESS. The details of the application process had not yet been agreed upon between Professor Kaase and the DFG, but it had been indicated that the money for the ESS had been earmarked. As far as he could tell at the moment, any postponement of the survey from 2001 to 2002 would not constitute a problem.

With regard to the project team and the principal investigators no decisions had been taken. While it seemed very plausible and advantageous to involve the Mannheim-based Zentrum fuer Umfragen, Methoden und Analysen (ZUMA) in the project because of its methodological and practical survey expertise, a decision on this will be taken only once the Brussels funding had been ascertained. It is already clear at this point that the fieldwork will be done by a high-quality commercial institute like the Munich-based Infratest with which Professor Kaase had already been in contact in the phase of obtaining a survey cost estimate. One question that will need to be resolved in due time is also whether the new Laender (the former GDR) will have to be over-represented in the sample, given the still existing differences in orientations to the "old" Federal Republic.

Following this 'tour de table', the Chairman drew attention to the state-of-play in those countries where Steering Committee members were absent from today's meeting.

France. In a tabled letter, Dr. Cautrès confirmed that CNRS had approved French participation in the ESS project, and it would be responsible for determining the national team/institute to conduct the national fieldwork.

Austria. The Secretary informed members that Dr. Muller had telephoned to confirm that the Austrian Science Foundation wished to participate in the ESS project and had encouraged an application for the funding of the first survey 'wave'. Similar conditions on EU funding and other European country involvement applied.

Czech Republic. The Secretary reported that Dr. Michal Illner (Czech member of SCSS) had written to confirm the interest of the Czech Academy of Sciences in participating in the ESS although it was recognised that survey costs would be high and hence other joint funding sources might also need to be sought. The necessary expertise was available concerning comparative social surveys (including international projects such as ISSP) as well as a computerised data archiving facility - the Czech Sociological Data Archive.

The Chairman Professor Kaase, requested that, given this determination from the Czech side to join the ESS project, the Secretary should consult with Dr. Illner on his nominating a member of the ESS Steering Committee.

Iceland. The Secretary reported that no response had yet been received from the Research Council of Iceland.

Italy. The Secretary reported that a decision from the Italian Research Council was still pending. This delay reflected the current process of restructuring of the Council's decision-making committees. Professor Guido Martinotti was seeking an earlier decision and hoped to advise the ESF office shortly. The issue was also being taken up by the new CNR member of SCSS, Professor Giovanni Cannata.

Finally, the Secretary informed the Committee that Estonia had joined ESF this year and was represented by two Member Organisations, the Academy of Sciences and the Estonian Science Foundation. These organisations had expressed their deside to join SCSS activities and hence their potential participation in the ESS project would be raised with them.

During the course of these discussions on national fieldwork preparations, the following general points were made:

(i) as a general rule, the Steering Committee agreed that three months should be the maximum time limit for the survey fieldwork, but the preference was for a two-month period. It was recognised that in some countries there may be local difficulties in meeting this time limit (e.g. regional coverage in the sample)

(ii) "drop off" modules may be allowed where they are seen to be very valuable in a particular national context. However, their likely success (in terms of completion and return rate) was questioned given that the ESS questionnaire itself would take 50 minutes approximately with each respondent

(iii) the importance of ESS data as a "collective good" was emphasised, and hence the need to make it available to the wider research community as early as possible (particularly given its potential as a tool for training in data analysis and methodology)

(iv) In some countries, a larger effective sample may be used if judged valuable in the national context

(v) 'non response' will be an important issue to address, and ESS should benefit from results of research on this in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Item 6 - Discussion of the Working Papers on the Specification of the Main Categories of Variables to be included in the ESS core module
Work on the core questionnaire variables was reviewed and, in some cases, it was acknowledged that the preparation of papers was behind schedule. Follow-up action on the missing papers was agreed with the aim of their completion within a three-month period. The Committee agreed that no further topic papers were needed beyond those identified at the Methodology Committee April 1999 meeting.

The Committee reviewed the original plan to convene a workshop to debate the core module papers prior to the preparation of a ESS draft core questionnaire. Given the delays in the schedule of the preparation of the papers, it was decided to proceed directly, on receipt of all the papers, to the preparation of a ESS draft core questionnaire.

It was agreed to delegate this task to the Chairman, Professor Kaase, together with the Chairman of the Methodology Committee, Professor Jowell. The Methodology Committee would also advise on other expertise to be drawn upon in preparing the draft questionnaire. Members felt that such expertise should reflect a regional balance because the core questionnaire would need to take account of different cultural values. Professor Nordberg requested that a Nordic expert be involved in the preparation of the draft questionnaire and this proposal was accepted.

Once the draft questionnaire was available, it would be circulated to Steering Committee members (via ESS e-mail server) for comment and feedback to the drafting group.

Item 7 - Summary Report on Discussions held between Professor Max Kaase (ESS Steering Committee Chairman), Dr. John H. Smith (ESF) and Dr. Achilleas Mitsos (EU Directorate for Research) on 18 January 2000 concerning an application for EU funding of ESS central research costs.
The Chairman reported on the discussions held with Dr. Mitsos and other DG Research officials which were most cordial and constructive. Dr. Mitsos had indicated that these consultations were most welcome from the Commission side. It was recognised that the ESS was an innovative project in European socio-economic infrastructure building and that the Fifth Framework Research Programme must allow for its consideration.

The purpose of the discussions had been to gain advice on the timing of the application for ESS central research costs in relation to forthcoming and prospective "calls for proposals". In summary, the Chairman advised the Steering Committee that the options available were either to stimulate an application to the present "call for proposals" for RTD projects under the 'key action' on 'Improving the Socio-Economic Knowledge Base' (closing date: 28 April 2000), or to delay to a forthcoming call which may focus more specifically on support for socio-economic research infrastructure projects.

Dr. Mitsos had stated that the prospects for a 'call' focussed on socio-economic infrastructure depended upon progress on consultations between DG Research and EUROSTAT, the Commission agency responsible for data collection and analysis. He hoped that these consultations would result soon in a 'memorandum of understanding' between DG Research and EUROSTAT.

In the light of this advice, the Steering Committee decided to wait a further month (until mid-February) to learn whether a forthcoming 'call' of this nature was likely. Dr. Smith reported that Dr. Mitsos had indicated his willingness to advise him of progress made on this matter in advance of the SCSS Core Group meeting on 17-18 February 2000. Information received and the consequent advice of the Core Group would be conveyed to the Chairman, Professor Kaase.

Item 8 - Decisions on the organisation of the Central Research Tasks
(i) Identification of the Research Group to formulate the proposal to the EU Framework Programme for ESS Central research costs.

In order to prepare for either contingency the Steering Committee decided upon a 'drafting group' to prepare the central research costs application. The drafting group comprised the following persons: Professor Roger Jowell (UK) as convenor; Professor Jacques Billiet (Belgium); Dr. Peter Farago (Switzerland); Dr. Torben Fridberg (Denmark); Professor Michael Marsh (Ireland); Professor Guido Martinotti (Italy) and Dr. Ineke Stoop (the Netherlands). The composition of the drafting group reflected the desire to draw upon Methodology Committee membership including the (above) planned work on the draft core questionnaire, the experience of national teams already financed and preparing for the national survey, and a regional balance of expertise.

(ii) Choice of location/s for the housing of the ESS permanent central coordinating group (methodology team)

The Committee identified the criteria and requirements for the choice of location of the ESS central team. It was agreed that the host institution/s must have demonstrated substantial methodological expertise and possess established international experience. The institution had to be placed within an academic framework with strong linkage to the university sector. Most importantly, there must be a clear willingness to house the ESS project with commitment and enthusiasm, because this was an innovative and challenging project that would require strong and active central research management.

Members debated the options for potential institute locations such as NCSR (UK), ZUMA (D), NSD (N) and it was agreed that members should write to the Chairman by 18 February to express their views.

Item 9 - Any other business

There was no other business.

Item 10 - Date of next meeting
In the event that the ESS central research costs application needed to be submitted to the above mentioned EU/5FP 'call for proposals' deadline of 28 April 2000, it was decided to set a provisional date for the next meeting of Monday, 17 April 2000. The location would be WZB, Berlin, Germany. The Secretary would confirm, as soon as possible, whether this meeting would be held.


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