Research methods

The Bristol Civic Leadership Project has involved both qualitative and quantitative methods, generating data from before and after the introduction of mayoral governance in the city

Qualitative methods

We have undertaken a number of activities that aim to bring out the views of different interests in depth, as follows:

  • In October 2012, we organised a ‘Prospects Workshop’ to bring together an invited group of civic leaders, drawn from inside and outside local government, to share ideas on the future possibilities for mayoral governance in the city.
  • In February 2015, we organised two focus groups. Each had 11 participants.
  • The researchers have carried out 20 interviews between 2012 and 2020 with civic leaders from Bristol and beyond.

Quantitative methods

We have generated quantitative survey data from the following sources:

1) Surveys of Bristol residents, via the Bristol Citizens’ Panel (September 2012 and January 2014, July 2018).

The Bristol Citizens’ Panel is a representative survey of Bristol residents. We included a number of questions to measure change in perceptions of Bristol’s governance in this survey. The number of respondents to our surveys were as follows:

Citizens’ Panel surveys

Number of responses Response rate (%)
September 2012 658 35
January 2014 1,013 48
July 2018 680 58

2) Surveys of civic leaders (September 2012, December 2014, and November 2018)

For the survey of civic leaders, we surveyed councillors from Bristol City Council, and respondents form across the public, private, and third sectors. This survey also included questions to measure change in perceptions of Bristol’s governance over time. The response rates are shown below.

Civic leaders’ surveys

Number of responses Response rate (%)
September 2012 123 59
December 2014 103 49
November 2018 123 51

3) Bristol Quality of Life in your Neighbourhood surveys (2012 and 2014)

In 2012 and 2014, we generated data from the Bristol Quality of Life in your Neighbourhood survey. Our response rates were 18% in 2012, and 14% in 2014.


Members of the research team have also been active in contributing to public debates about civic leadership in Bristol throughout the project.



Privacy notice for the Bristol Civic Leadership Project

This privacy notice relates to The Bristol Civic Leadership Project survey conducted in 2018.

David Sweeting, at the University of Bristol is the data controller for this project for the purposes of the relevant legal regulations. The purpose of this privacy notice is to tell you about what information we collect about you, how we use that information and who we may share it with.

The contact details of the data controller are:

David Sweeting, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, 8 Priory Road, Bristol, BS8 1TZ

What data do we collect and why do we collect it?

The personal data we collect is your name, your email address, and the organisation with which you are associated. We need your name and email to identify you to ask you to complete our survey. We need to know your organisation so we can analyse survey responses according to which sector or realm respondents come from: political realm; public sector; third/voluntary/community sector; or private sector.

The other data we collect is your opinions on the governance of Bristol. These will be anonymised, and it will only be possible to identify respondents according to the sector with which they are associated.

We collect this data in order to conduct research on the perceptions of governance in Bristol over time. We have conducted similar surveys in 2012, 2014, and we are now conducting one in 2018. The data collected feed into policy reports and presentations, and academic outputs. We only ever publish results that are anonymised, and it is not possible to link individual respondents to the opinions offered. Please see for examples of our research outputs.

The legal basis for processing your personal data

In line with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), we will only process your contact details with your express consent and only for the purpose(s) specified.

How long will we keep your data?

Your personal details (name, email, organisation) details will be held for up to five years from the date of consent. Before the five year period finishes, we may contact you to ask if you would like us to retain your contact details for a further period in order to conduct research.

The data we collect on your opinions will be anonymised and held for a period of up to 20 years.

Who will we share your data with?

Your personal information will be shared between researchers from the University of Bristol, the University of the West of England, Bristol, and Bristol City Council. It will not be published or passed on to third parties.

The anonymised data we collect on your opinions will be held on an ‘open access’ basis for up to 20 years, and made available to other researchers on request. This is to encourage secondary data analysis and minimise duplication of research effort.

How and where is my data collected and stored?

The information that you supply is collected using software called “Smart Survey”. Smart Survey stores data on secure servers in the United Kingdom ( Where we share data between researchers at the University of Bristol, the University of the West of England, Bristol, and Bristol Bity Council, this shall be done securely using encryption software. Your data will be held on secure, password protected servers at those institutions.

What rights to I have?

You have the right, at any time, to ask for the erasure of any personal information we hold about you, including your contact details, which we have collected during our research. You have the right to request access to your data and where data is found to be inaccurate to have that data corrected. You also have a right of complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) at  if you think we have dealt with your information in an inappropriate manner.

You can ask to see what information we hold about you and have access to it. You can do this by contacting the data controller (David Sweeting Any further questions regarding the data being processed may also be sent to the data controller.

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