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2011 census: Research

We did a lot of research to make sure the census took users' views into account.

Cognitive testing research 2009

Research company IpsosMORI conducted cognitive testing of some questions for the 2011 census.

The cognitive testing allowed us to check:

  • whether a question worked as intended
  • if we provided enough information for people to provide accurate answers

The research also helped us develop our questionnaires by suggesting improvements to wording, layout and routing.

Read reports from our testing about:

Question development

We must thoroughly test questions before we can consider them suitable for the census.

When researching and testing questions, we consider:

  • how acceptable the questions would be to the public
  • whether the questions could be asked in a way that produces reliable answers
  • whether other ways of collecting the information already exist

We used focus groups, online questionnaires and surveys to research our questions for the 2011 census.

Online questionnaire

Between Autumn 2004 and January 2006 we ran an online questionnaire asking for views on the 2001 census.

Responses to the questionnaire helped us learn about census users’ changing data needs.

Read the Final Summary of Questionnaire Responses.

Focus groups

We conducted focus groups across Scotland to understand the quality and acceptability of new questions. We met with a wide range of groups, including:

  • the elderly
  • young people
  • religious and faith groups
  • rural communities

Sexual orientation in the census

We investigated adding a sexual orientation question to the census using a small-scale postal survey in 2005.

This survey was sent to 4,400 randomly selected households in Scotland. Half of the survey forms had a sexual orientation question, while half did not.

After this research, we decided not to include a sexual orientation question in the 2011 census.

Read more about the survey and its findings in Sexual Orientation in the Census.

Topic groups

We met with people and organisations with special knowledge. This helped us ensure the census was accessible to the whole community.

These included meetings with:

  • blind and partially sighted people
  • deaf and deafblind people
  • gypsy/travellers
  • disabled people
  • young males
  • minority ethnic communities
  • asylum seekers

View the request for participation in our blind and partially sighted consultation.

Read notes from our meeting with people from deaf and deafblind organisations in May 2007.