Posts Tagged ‘Social Research’

Posts Tagged ‘Social Research’

New MRS Code of Conduct

The Market Research Society (MRS) has launched and updated a new edition of their Code of Conduct, which will come in to effect on 1st September 2014, and is relevant for market, social and opinion research. The Code is significant to the research industry because it underpins ethical research, best practice guidance, legal instruction and ‘exists to protect the entire research supply chain’. With the fast revolutionising research market facing questions about the collection and use of personal data, the MRS Code of Conduct is crucial in helping to protect and regulate first-rate research practice. This gives everyone concerned greater assurance in research from the research providers who adhere to the Code, through to buyers and research participants.

Jane Frost, the Chief Executive of MRS, has said: “The UK research sector is worth more than £3bn and it’s growing. The emergence of massive datasets and the public’s concern around privacy are just two examples of challenges to the sector that didn’t exist ten years ago, let alone sixty. The updated Code is the bedrock on which this sector will continue to flourish - it ensures that research is legal, ethical and transparent, and that is critical to customer and consumer trust.”

Our research director, Gemma Mackman, is a member of the MRS and thus all research carried out by Mackman Research , whether business to business, social, online, telephone, qualitative or quantitative, is executed in accordance with with the rules and regulations.

Our researchers also conform to the Code and follow strict procedures. We are always direct with our introductions when conducting research on behalf of our clients and offer an explanation as to why we are conducting the research. All responses are collected in a strictly confidential manner and in such instance both clients and participants remain anonymous throughout and breaches of confidence do not occur under any circumstances.


Amanda visits the SRA conference

The Social Research Association held its 'Social Media in Social Research' annual conference in London on the 24th June 2013. Our senior researcher Amanda attended the daylong event which saw presentations from a wide range of speakers including academics with experience in researching social media. The day started with a presentation by Dr Farida Vis who was part of the research team for the "Reading the Riots" collaboration with The Guardian. The project analysed 2.6 million tweets during the 2012 summer riots in London. Dr Vis is at the forefront of social media research and talked about the data challenges surrounding social media research, existing methodologies, technical difficulties and questions regarding bias, sampling and anonymity. A further Skillslab in the afternoon looked at analysing information through images; coding techniques, authenticity of the social media image, how images move and circulate and how they are received/construed by the viewer.

There were queries from the floor about best practice advice and these were picked up and discussed further by Kandy Woodfield at NSMNSS (New Social Media New Social Science) and the ethics panel discussion at the end of the day. These 'rules' are being discussed now by specialists in the social media social research field. Subsequently, social researchers can go forward ethically with a balance being struck between all parties.

Brian Kelly from the University of Bath highlighted the benefits of social media optimisation which can extend, promote and support research activity. Claire Meehan from the University of Auckland described how she started with a traditional focus group methodology to explore young people's use of drugs to then analysing social media to gain further insight into how the young construct their drugs knowledge.

Two presentations looked at social media user's views on social media research and privacy/ethics. Both of these studies (one academic/ one commercial) showed that there is a wide difference in what people think about how their information is being used and shared online, with a majority believing Twitter is more public than Facebook, which is considered more family orientated and therefore more private. A whole different set of concerns were raised when discussing the level of dissemination at which people's opinion is used. Dr Nicola Stanley discussed the online recruitment process and explored privacy behaviours from an online panel of 354 participants.

Amanda commented, "The day was inspiring and created meaningful debate surrounding social media research. One clear thing that came out of the conference, was that social media is blurring the edges between traditional research recruitment, methodology and process and social researchers are calling for additional guidelines of social media research methods that are easy to use and understand in terms of privacy control and integrity".

Social Media in Social Research London Conference 2013


Our senior researcher Amanda is looking forward to attending the Social Research Association’s annual conference on Monday 24th June in London. The daylong event is titled ‘Social Media in Social Research’ and will explore the value of social media to social researchers. The programme is chockfull with interesting speakers from the world of social research including academics with experience in researching social media and representatives from NatCen (National Centre for Social Research). The day will cover a number of thought-provoking areas including using social media to enhance research activity, understanding the ethical implications of social media research and exploring the behaviour of social media users. There will also be a skills workshop to help researchers develop their technical know-how. Amanda says, “I am keen to discover more about the hot topics surrounding social media in social research and to consider how things are taking shape in this new and changing area of research. I think it is really important to understand the value of social media research and how this can be conducted using competent methodologies which also consider the wider ethical and technical implications. I’m excited about learning new skills and look forward to giving feedback to the team at Mackman.”

For more information about the event, visit

Customer Research – Mixed Methodology


Mackman Research was commissioned by Eastern IFCA to conduct a benchmark awareness survey to understand stakeholder awareness and engagement, across Eastern IFCAís three counties (Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk). In particular, assessing the role that Eastern IFCA has in the coastal community and measuring the level of understanding for Eastern IFCAís change of emphasis towards sustainability as well as their requirement to balance social and economic benefits of sea fisheries against exploitation. Eastern IFCA needed the research to inform them about how well they are doing to meet these objectives, and also to identify where they need to target their engagement activities in the future. They also wanted the research to create a set of bench mark measurements against which Eastern IFCA can show progress.


To achieve the highest response rate possible, Mackman Research used a mixed approach using a combination of an online survey (by email), telephone survey and face to face interviews for the more difficult to reach populations. Within each main stakeholders group we identified sub-user groups which shared the same attributes and characteristics of the key stakeholder group. Because of this, we recommended the project employ a random stratified methodology. All surveys were anonymous and respondents were notified of this.

Each sub-group were contacted by an email address (if supplied) and by telephone if a number was available. The online survey was ëliveí over the course of two and a half weeks. During this time, three reminder emails were sent. Telephone contacts were sent a letter from Eastern IFCA informing them of the awareness survey and that a researcher from Mackman would be calling. The telephone survey lasted approximately six minutes with a Mackman researcher. Several respondents asked for the survey to be emailed and were sent a ëliveí link to the online version of the questionnaire. The face to face interviews took place over two days. The fieldwork crucially needed to consider the weather and the tides. Fieldwork took place in Southwold / Aldeburgh and the North Norfolk stretch of coastline between Cley next the Sea and Cromer, respectively. A paper version of the survey was used to question members of the public at all of these locations. Participation was monitored and when one group was found to have a low response rate, more contacts from this grouping where sought.

219 respondents completed the online and telephone survey, achieving a confidence level of 95% and a confidence interval of +/-6.6%, from a population of 528. In addition to this, 64 face to face qualitative interviews were conducted during the fieldwork stage


The awareness research has been valuable to Eastern IFCA and assisted the government organisation in targeting their future engagement activities. To help Eastern IFCA accomplish this, Mackman Research considered the coastal users' level of understanding and ratings for Eastern IFCA priorities. The research identified areas for improved communication and the importance of reaching out to hard to reach populations. The investigation has also helped Eastern IFCA think about their broader marketing and how how they can expand their current offering to members of the public and the fishing community.




Eastern IFCA survey screen example

Eastern IFCA survey screen example






Mackman Research completes awareness campaign for eastern fisheries authority

Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation AuthorityMackman Research is delighted to have worked with the Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (EIFCA) to complete a bench mark awareness study. The study took part at the end of last year and was commissioned by EIFCA to understand stakeholder awareness and engagement across Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. The purpose of the study was to assess the awareness/engagement of key stakeholders since the introduction of IFCA’s by the government in April 2011. The job of an IFCA is to sustainably manage inshore fisheries in their local area.

The survey set out to assess and measure the level of understanding by the coastal community for EIFCA’s change towards sustainability as well as their requirement to balance social and economic benefits of sea fisheries against exploitation. In summary the survey sought to demonstrate how well EIFCA are ‘recognised and heard’ by its stakeholders across commercial, community, conservation and recreational populace.

To achieve the highest response rate possible, Mackman Research used a mixed approach using a combination of an online survey (by email), telephone survey and face to face interviews. Qualitative face to face surveys were used to gain a response from more difficult to reach populations.

Client Lead, Sara Cullis said, “Our research team thoroughly enjoyed collecting the data for this study. Sustainable fishing has become a hot topic in government policy circles following a high profile ‘fish fight’ campaign which raised the case for fairer fishing quotas for fishermen and since the IFCA’s replaced the Sea Fisheries Committees in 2011. The study highlights some of the concerns which lay behind this move. Chiefly, the survey results provide EIFCA with robust data so they can move forward and target key stakeholders with engagement activities this year, strengthening coastal community cohesion on the subject of a sustainable seashore for all.”

Phillip Haslam, CEO of EIFCA, "We were impressed by the final report showing comprehensible results and recommendations. Immediately, we felt Mackman understood the requirements of the research. The team were easy to talk to, enthusiastic and worked hard to bring the project in on time and to a tight timescale and budget. We are looking forward to making the most of the research, to create and deliver a targeted engagement activity programme. We would highly recommend Mackman Research for research projects."

If you have an enquiry for quantitative or qualitative research, please contact us at or telephone 01787 3788038

Social Research – Face To Face Interviews


Mackman Research was commissioned by Chelmsford City Council in Essex to research the use of parks and gardens, specifically by families on low incomes and minority groups. They also wanted to explore what would change behaviour. These findings would inform future Council campaigns which aim to get more people to use the parks and gardens. Chelmsford City Council were looking for an innovative and bespoke methodology and were open to Mackman Research challenging their brief and testing the theory that low income groups are definitely low users of the parks and gardens. Gemma, Mackman’s Research Director, proposed an approach which checked this assumed theory out and came up with a methodology which kicked off with an audit. The results from this first study would inform the second part of the research brief (‘what would help change the behaviour of these groups’).

When it came to choosing a methodology, Chelmsford City Council needed a robust sample which would represent the population of the City (They made it clear that they would be wary of making a decision based on a number of small focus groups). Therefore it was important Mackman Research design a methodology which was statistically sound, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Part of the research design involved defining what a ‘low income’ is; Mackman Research helped define this in collaboration with Chelmsford City Council. This definition had to take in to account the unprecedented economic conditions.

Gemma designed a research process which was split into two phases. The first phase sought to audit all City Council run parks and gardens in a bid to discover who was using the parks; how frequently and for what purpose they were using the parks. Participants were asked where they lived and how they travelled to parks. Demographic questions were also asked during this phase, including participant’s disposable income. The results of the first phase informed the second phase of the research and gave way to direct targeting of Chelmsford residents in areas of deprivation (likely to be of low educational attainment) (see below).


Mackman Research used a mixed methodology approach which combined quantitative statistical representation (of the local population) with qualitative data gathering methods. Our researchers approached all participants on a face-to-face basis and interviewed a total of 816 respondents. All surveys were anonymous and participants were notified of this.

The data gathering process was split into 2 phases. The 1st phase set out to record who was using each park and test the theory of low-income non-users. The phase 1 survey population contained 445 respondents. This figure achieved a 95% confidence level and a +/- 4.64% confidence interval, based upon a total Chelmsford city population of 162,000. Following this audit stage, we were able to identify profile gaps in the users of Chelmsford parks. From the data it was clear that low income families were using the parks and gardens and the number of park users with a disability and from a minority group were also representative of the Chelmsford population.

Whilst it was evident that there were fewer unemployed park users than employed and fewer users with low educational qualifications, low educational achievers came through as major non-users of the parks and therefore it was valid for Mackman to have challenged the theory that low income and minority groups were considered the main group who weren’t using the parks.

As a result, and according to the research methodology, phase 2 directly targeted those who are not using parks and gardens and investigated barriers to park use. Data gathering commenced face-to-face at the Job Centre and Benefits Office and door-to-door with areas known for a high proportion of unemployed residents. During this stage, data collection was targeted to specific geographical areas of deprivation. 371 respondents completed the phase 2 questionnaire, achieving a confidence level of 95% and a confidence interval of +/-5%, of a low-income Chelmsford city population of 9,500. In addition, a request was sent from Chelmsford City Council to the Council Community Coordinator to reach neighbourhood groups in North West Chelmsford. Attendees at the Wisdom Group (held every Monday morning for older, vulnerable / lonely people) completed the questionnaire in paper format.


The parks research has been invaluable to the City Council and is thought to be the first of its kind within the UK. This original piece of research has helped identify areas for improvement and informed marketing to help raise awareness of the parks and gardens, encouraging more of Chelmsford’s residents to enjoy the wonderful parks close to them. The unparalleled knowledge that low educational achievers were a target group to encourage in to using the parks of Chelmsford, was a main driver for the Council’s projects and practices going forward. Thus, this research was central to the Council’s strategy for parks and green spaces in Chelmsford. Among a number of aims this strategy looked at, community involvement and participation in planning, opportunities to improve security, reduce fear of crime and anti-social behaviour, opportunities to improve facilities and create new spaces, increasing the range of activities, supporting biodiversity and enhancing the natural environment. At the heart of this was the acknowledgement that parks and green spaces provide quality of life, and these areas are the “lungs” within the urban environment. The Green Flag Award® Scheme recognises and rewards the best green spaces in the country and recognises “the many benefits that good quality parks and green spaces can provide in enhancing people’s quality of life and creating decent, attractive places where people want to live, work and play. That is why they form part of the [Government’s] programme to build stronger, more sustainable communities now and in the future.” *

The parks research was put forward by Chelmsford City Council to the annual Government Business Awards, which encourage and reward effective business practice in the public sector. The project won the top prize for Market Research.

In August 2013, Chelmsford City Council secured the highest number of Green Flag Awards in the Eastern region, with ten awards for the quality of its parks. In addition, the city received a number of Green Heritage and Green Flag Community Awards.

*Yvette Cooper, Minister for Regeneration – The Green Flag Award Guidance Manual

Mackman researchers - Chelmsford parks and gardens audit

Moving on up…

Mackman Group new office, Sudbury, Suffolk

Mackman Group new office, Sudbury, Suffolk

With the Mackman team continually growing as demand for business increases, the company is moving into a bigger office. The company has acquired a new building in Sudbury, just down the road from the current premises.

The design and technical departments have moved into the new building already, with the marketing, research and publicity teams moving down later in the year. Being a bunch of creatives, everyone has plenty of ideas as to how the new space can be decorated!

This exciting news marks an important step forward for the Group as its steady and significant growth has enabled this move. The new building has plenty of office space, multiple meeting rooms, on site parking and a rose-filled outside space. Watch this space for news of a 'House Warming' party in the New Year!

Mackman Research work wins top prize at the Government Business Awards

Mackman Researchers Gemma and Abi

Mackman researchers, Abi and Gemma, are delighted with the award

The annual Government Business Awards, which encourage and reward effective business practises in the public sector across the country, yesterday presented Mackman Research clients, Chelmsford Borough Council, with the top prize for Market Research. The award was won in recognition of the Council's Parks Audit which was carried out by Mackman Research in 2009. The winners were announced at Twickenham Stadium and presented by Bill Turnbull (BBC News).

In particular the research sought to discover why low income groups within the Borough are low users of public parks and gardens. Mackman devised the methodology, designed the questionnaire, collected the data, analysed the information and prepared and delivered the findings report. Our staff were out and about in Chelmsford not only in the parks, but directly targeting respondents at the Job Centre, the Benefits Office and via door-to-door interviews. The project was the first of its kind within the UK.

Officers from the Parks and Heritage Services, said: “The Mackman Group team had a professional, collaborative, ‘can do’ approach to the project and we were impressed with their flexibility and expertise. The final report was clear and in depth and a great piece of research.”

Gemma said: “The project was challenging but enjoyable and the fact that our research will assist the Council in encouraging more of Chelmsford’s residents to enjoy the wonderful parks that they have on their doorsteps made the project extremely worthwhile.”

Mackman Research Joins Suffolk ProHelp

Following an approach and invitation by Business in the Community (BitC) Mackman Research has joined Suffolk Prohelp.  Established in 1989, ProHelp is the largest provider of free professional support to communities in the UK.  Sufffolk ProHelp was launched in 2001 and the membership includes representatives from almost every part of the countys' business community.  Previously Mackman Group has been an active member of  Colchester ProHelp which is the town that the company was launched in 2003.

Sure Start Award Social Research Contract

Sure Start  have commissioned the social research services of Mackman Research to measure customer satisfaction levels.  The project will survey the views of parents and carers who use the services of Sure Start Hyndburn.  It is anticipated that data collection will commence in April with analysis and final reporting delivered by the end of May.  This is not the first time that Mackman Research have undertaken qualitative and quantitative research on behalf of Sure Start.  The results will compare current findings with previous research.