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Sgoil Cheumnaichean Saidheans Sòisealta na h-Alba

When Methods Meet

Surveys and Citizens’ Juries


This 15-minute film captures a conversation between the users of two social science research methods, surveys and citizens’ juries. The conversation was captured at the end of a session at the fifth Scottish Graduate School of Social Science Summer School in which Andrew Thompson and Jen Roberts drew on their experience of working together in a project that combined these methods to research attitudes to wind farms in Scotland. They describe some of the strengths and limitations of the respective approaches and consider how combining them has the potential to be complementary, despite the different epistemological bases of the two methods. Surveys are generally administered to individuals whereas citizens’ juries are necessarily deliberative, and drawing on the effects on individual members of discussions among the group, but the conversation raises a range of issues that force us to think about the status of each method as well as what happens when they are combined. The film also includes a contribution from the audience at the event.

Academics in conversation: Dr Jen Roberts, University of Strathclyde, and Professor Andrew Thompson, University of Edinburgh.


The following are recent contributions to the discussion of the methods, and they all contain bibliographies that provide suggestions for further reading. Mini-publics
  • J. S. Dryzek. Foundations and frontiers of deliberative democracy (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2010).
  • S. Elstub. ‘Mini-publics: Issues and Cases’, in S. Elstub and P. McLaverty (eds.) Deliberative Democracy: Issues and Cases, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 2014).
Citizens’ juries
  • A. Coote and J. Lenaghan, Citizens’ Juries: Theory into practice (London: Institute for Public Policy Research 1997)
  • N. Crosby, ‘Citizen juries: One solution for difficult environmental questions’, in O. Renn, Webler T and Wiedemann P (eds.), Fairness and competence in citizen participation: Evaluating models for environmental discourse (Boston: Kluwer Academic, 1995) pp. 157-174
  • N. Crosby and D. Nethercutt, ‘Citizen juries: Creating a trustworthy voice of the people’, in Gastil J and Levine P (eds.), The deliberative democracy handbook: Strategies for effective civic engagement in the twenty-first century. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005)
  • C. Delap, ‘Citizens’ juries: reflections on the UK experience’, Participatory Learning and Action, 40 (2001), pp. 39-42.
  • D. French and M. Laver,‘Participation, bias, durable opinion shifts and sabotage through withdrawal in citizens´ juries’, Political Studies, 57: (2009) pp. 422-450.
  • G. Smith and C. Wales, The theory and practice of citizens’ juries. Policy and Politics, 27(3) (1999), pp. 295-308.
  • A. Bryman, Social Research Methods, 5th edition, (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2015)
  • D. De Vaus, Surveys in Social Research, 6th edition, (London: Routledge, 2013)
  • C. Marsh, ‘Problems with Surveys: Method or Epistemology?’ Sociology 13 (1979), pp. 293-305.
  • C. Marsh, The Survey Method, (London: HarperCollins, 1982)
  • A.N. Oppenheim AN, Questionnaire Design, Interviewing and Attitude Measurement, 2nd edition, (London: Pinter, 1992)
  • H. Schuman and S. Presser, Questions and answers in attitudes surveys: experiments on question form, wording and context (London: Sage, 1996)
  • H. Schuman, Method and meaning in polls and surveys (Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press, 2008)
  • G.B. Willis, Cognitive Interviewing: A Tool for Improving Questionnaire Design(London: Sage, 2005)
  • This is specific to health care, but it might be of interest to some as it contrasts surveys with experiments:
  • A.G.H. Thompson (2003), ‘Questioning practices in health care research: the contribution of social surveys to the creation of knowledge’,  International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 15 (3) (2003) pp. 187-188.
Andrew Thompson’s webpage: Jen Roberts’ webpage:


We have created a downloadble resource sheet for this video. It has a transcript of the conversation, the list of references, and suggested seminar questions.