In finding data to hold your government to account, you may not be able to find official data on what you want. If you believe it is feasible, you may want to collect primary data. Primary data is a great accountability tool because you’ll have first hand statistics and it allows you as investigators or researchers to have the freedom to tailor the data collection.
A very simple form of primary data collection are questionnaires, which are useful for attaining data from a large amount of people. They allow you to collect both qualitative and quantitative data from open and closed questions. We as, Accountability Advocates, used a questionnaire with an online ‘Google survey’ to gather data on the perceptions young people have about their Sexual and Relationships Education (SRE). The findings for the survey would assist us in holding the UK government to account for their commitment to Goal 3 (Health) and Goal 5 (Gender Equality) of the SDGs, specifically focusing on the indicator about sexual health. A Google survey is simply an online survey software linked to Google which allows anyone to create and publish online surveys in minutes. We were very impressed by how hassle-free it was to navigate around the website. Our survey was then posted on Facebook and Twitter for it to reach out to a wide range of people and the link could easily be accessed on both computers and mobile devices. The response we received from this survey was incredible since it was only live for 2 weeks. Altogether we received 303 responses and found out that most people were dissatisfied with the SRE they received in school. Much like with our survey, questionnaires are easy to publicise on social media.
The detailed results of the survey can be found here: SRE Survey Results Report
A way of attaining in-depth qualitative data and expanding upon the data gained from questionnaires would be to interview willing participants. Interviews can be conducted in three main forms: structured, semi-structured and unstructured.
- Structured interviews are straightforward and allow less room for the participant to go into depth, as they are mainly used to clarify points but can easily be administered.
- Semi-structured interviews allow more room for detailed answers and the participant can expand upon their opinions and thoughts with some guidance from the interviewer.
- Whilst unstructured interviews are performed with little or no organisation and the interview is steered completely by the participant according to what they want to discuss in relation to a topic. Unstructured interviews can be quite time-consuming and harder to analyse.
If you have any questions, contributions, or would like our advice, do feel free to contact us – we are happy to help others in their accountability actions!