Ipsos' Qualitative Research and Engagement Centre - One year on

One year ago, we launched the Qualitative Research and Engagement Centre (QREC).

The author(s)

  • Michelle Mackie Head of the Qualitative Research and Engagement Centre, Public Affairs
Get in touch

One year ago, we launched the Qualitative Research and Engagement Centre (QREC), a new centre of excellence bringing together our qualitative research methodologists and our dialogue and deliberative engagement specialists. Our mission is to support policy makers to deliver high quality, impact and ethical research and engagement that puts understanding people’s lived experiences at the heart of what we do. We achieve this through training, mentoring, speaking at conferences and through our partnerships, for example our deliberative engagement partnership with Imperial College Health Partners.

Michelle Mackie, Head of the Qualitative Research and Engagement Centre, said:

As Head of QREC, I wanted to share just some of the ways that we have successfully brought the public voice into policy making over the last year using a range of different methodologies. I am extremely proud of what we have achieved so far and am excited by what the future brings for the centre. For example, our new Head of Deliberative Engagement – Reema Patel – is currently leading a global science partnership project of countries to turn climate commitments into science-based and citizen-focused action. The project, which involves us working with Ipsos colleagues across the globe, will provide new insights on net-zero and environmental solutions, informed by citizens, to inform COP27.

Immersing the public in different futures through creative dialogue:

Often policy makers are interested in how new and disruptive technologies are going to land with the public, and what concerns and questions there might be in advance of the wider roll-out and adoption. However, at the same time it can be tricky for people to imagine the future and how they might think, feel and act towards what lies ahead in the absence of anything concrete. In this vein, UKRI commissioned QREC to design and deliver a Future Flight public dialogue, exploring the social, economic and environmental impacts and implications of future aviation technologies. The dialogue was supported and co funded by Sciencewise, an internationally recognised public engagement programme which enables policy makers to develop socially informed policy with a particular emphasis on science and technology. Working with The Liminal Space, a creative consultancy, we transported members of the public into the future using immersive stimulus designed to bring the technologies to life, and used this to discuss their hopes, concerns and expectations. The findings will be published next month and will inform the Future Flight Challenge Phase 3 activity, as well as the longer term 2030 vision.

Contact: Reema Patel, Head of Deliberative Engagement. 

Keeping the public at the forefront of health data policy development:

Following the success of the OneLondon health and care data deliberation, we have worked with Imperial College Health Partners to bring the public voice and expectations into the design and delivery of health data policy and data infrastructure. For example we have run deliberations to inform the access criteria and controls in relation to the Discover-NOW trusted research environment, and the design of systems and data environment(s) as part of the work of the London Health Data Strategy Programme. Ipsos and Imperial College Health Partners are currently working with the Open Data Institute to deliver a public dialogue exploring new and participatory forms of data stewardship, on behalf of the NHS AI Lab programme, with funding from the aforementioned Sciencewise programme.

Contact: Michelle Mackie, Head of the Qualitative Research and Engagement Centre. 

Using participant led video diaries to bring people’s experiences to life:

Often asking people questions through traditional research activities, such as in-depth interviews or discussion groups, can only tell you so much. Digital ethnography offers the opportunity for people to share their lives, experiences and behaviours using their mobile phone. We are currently working with Living Streets, a UK charity with a mission to achieve a better walking environment and inspire people to walk more, to explore children’s behaviours when travelling to school, with the aim of developing a behavioural intervention that would encourage children to walk to school more often. Using digital ethnography, we have been able to see, from the children’s perspective, what travelling to school is like. The report will be published in the upcoming months.

Contact: Lewis Hill, Head of Transport and Infrastructure.

Working with the public to solve the big, wicked problems of today:

Climate change is happening and will have significant impacts for our economy, society and environment in the short and long term as well as having devastating impacts across the globe. To inform the development of the government’s third National Adaptation Programme (NAP3), which will outline the government’s approach to climate adaptation, Defra - in partnership with the Sciencewise Programme – commissioned Ipsos and University of Leeds to deliver the climate adaptation public dialogue. Over 24 online workshops, members of the public discussed climate risks at length and their priorities for how we should adapt to these. The report, due to be published in the autumn, will summarise the public’s view on what a well-adapted England looks like and how they want the government and others to deliver this.

Contact Rachel Brisley, Head of Energy and Environment.

Engaging different parts of society in the levelling up agenda:

The UK Government has outlined its mission for how it will spread out opportunity more equally across the UK, challenging and changing unfairness that exists in our society. On behalf of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC), Ipsos has been commissioned to qualitatively research the flow of rough sleeping in five local authority areas in the UK experiencing particularly high levels of rough sleeping at the moment. QREC is supporting this work. The research will help DLUHC gain a more detailed understanding of individuals’ journeys before sleeping rough and the key drivers (including whether any opportunities for prevention were likely missed), as well developing a better understanding of strategies and approaches to preventing the flow of rough sleeping at a local level, including the role of data and evidence as well as that of different authorities and institutions.

Contact Matthew Bristow, Director in Ipsos North. 

The author(s)

  • Michelle Mackie Head of the Qualitative Research and Engagement Centre, Public Affairs

More insights about Public Sector

Society