‘Institutions of the Future’ Full Research Methodology & Sample Data

‘Institutions of the Future’ Full Research Methodology & Sample Data

This methodology relates to our March 2021 report ‘Institutions of the Future: Gen Z and the Private Sector

Research Design

National Youth Trends Research Design

This research was conceived in response to the ongoing need to platform young people’s voices, in order to make institutions more relevant. We did not set out to look into a particular topic, area or issue, but rather wanted to talk to young people about a broad range of things, so that how they responded could direct what we would later focus on. In this instance – that focus dictated a release on: social media use, social action, brand ethics, workplace environment, social responsibility.

In order to form a pre co-creation starting point, we drew on our previous research, our day-to-day conversations with young people and nearly a decade of experience working in the sector to come up with a long list of topics, questions and thoughts young people are passionate about. We then added to this long list by canvassing opinions from young people on what would be important to ask, and talking to institutions about what they wanted to know about Gen Z. 

We then co-created the final iteration of the research framework with our National Youth Trends Advisory Group – a group of young people from across the UK. They suggested amendments, helped us figure out possible answers and wordings for the questions and flagged issues which were missing from our longlist. Following several iterations, the final research framework – in the form of a list of survey questions and answers – was signed off by the group. 

We then went on to work with them on the platforms and channels we would use to collect data from young people and how this would work. The advisory group are paid a bursary of £150 for their year long involvement consulting on National Youth Trends.

Data Collection

Data collection for had three strands:

  • National Youth Trends 2020 Survey
  • September Diaries
  • Drop Your Thoughts

The principals strands used for this report were the Survey and the September diaries.


The principal method through which we collected data was through a survey open to anyone aged 16 – 25 (inclusive) who was living in the UK between the 17th August and 12th October.

The 70 question long survey was conducted and distributed online. It collected young people’s answers, demographic data and one question where they could leave contact information (email address or social media handle) to opt-in to being contacted by Beatfreeks for further opportunities. 

This sample was self-selecting. We distributed links to complete the survey in two principal ways: 

  1. Sharing it with other organisations that work with young people so that they can distribute it amongst their networks
  2. Targeted promoted posts on Instagram and twitter

During the process of data collection, we analysed demographic data collected (geographical spread, gender and ethnicity breakdown etc) to then further target groups which we have not yet reached. We mapped participant demographic data onto UK census data to ensure representation among groups.

This strand implements informed consent. The opening page of the survey informs participants as to what the project is, and how the data will be used in terms and detail appropriate to our age range. For the one question requiring personal data, the question description includes a link to our data policy (again written in terms appropriate to the group) which details how the data will be stored. The question also explains how the data will be used, should they want to provide it. Participants have the option to withdraw from the research at any point by leaving the survey incomplete and exiting the webpage.

To advertise completion of the survey, an incentive was offered to young people who took part. By submitting the survey, participants were entered into a competition to win one of ten £100 vouchers, for an online retailer of their choice. In order to be eligible for the voucher the young people had to leave contact information, so we could be in touch with them should they win.

September Diaries

Our second research strand is called the September Diaries. For this, we worked with 18 young people across the UK to submit 8 diary entries each over the month of September in 2020.

Participants for the September Diaries were picked from self-selecting applicants. We advertised applications in our first two weeks of survey data collection through our two principal ways of circulating information about the survey (above). Once applications had closed we selected the group of 18 young people based on attaining a group with representative demographics (age, geography, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, gender). Participants received a bursary of £100 for their time. This was payable following data collection.

Following confirmation of successful applicants, participants read an in-depth participant consent form and contract. This included more details about the project, information on the process of data collection, safeguarding information, their right to withdraw from the research and a series of consents relating to diaries. More details can be found in the contract.

Participants could consent to: 

  1. Submitting data to the project (required)
  2. Having their first name and basic demographic information attached to their diary for public use (optional)
  3. Using images submitted as part of the diaries for public use (optional)

Participants are informed of their right to withdraw any of the above consents, at any point during the process prior to publication. To achieve an appropriate level of safeguarding for the young people, diaries were submitted via private Whatsapp messages with Beatfreeks. At several established points in the process, our DSL checked in with the young people posting links and resources around maintaining mental wellbeing, and to check if the diary  process is affecting them.

The final group of 18 participants can be seen below.

118femaleAgnosticNorwichLesbianWhite BritishYes – physical disability/chronic illness
218maleNoneBirminghamHeterosexualAsian OtherNo
419femaleScotlandEdinburghWhire BritishYes, I have endometriosis
522maleAgnosticCardiffHeterosexualWhite BritishNA
621maleCatholicNottinghamGayCaribbean, British Irish TravelerNo
724maleChristianLeedsStraightBlack BritishN/a
819femaleNon-practising Christian background / spiritualistCroydonLesbian/Pansexual/Still figuring it out!Black BritishNo
925nonbinaryAgnosticLiverpoolBisexualWhire BritishNo
1016nonbinaryNoneNorthamptonBisexualWhire BritishNo
1216femaleOrthodoxNewcastleStraightWhire EuropeanNo
1121femaleNoneGlasgowStraightWhite BritishUlcerative colitis
1322maleN/ALondonStraightBlack BritishNo
1424femaleNoneBristolStraightEast AsianNone
1522femaleChristianSheffieldHeterosexualBlack British, White BritishDyslexia
1625femaleSikhBirminghamHeterosexual/StraightSouth AsianNo
1720femaleChristianityLeicesterBlack BritishNo
1820femaleAtheistCoventryStraightWhite BritishNo

Drop Your Thoughts

In order to ensure that we made data collection for the project as accessible and open as possible, we also offered the ability for young people to send us pictures, audio recordings, articles, drawings, poems, anything they wish to, via a secure online form. This data was collected along with the above consents (outlined in the September Diaries section), and participants were also informed at several points as to the nature of the project and the use of their data.

Data Analysis

Our survey had four type of question, which were collected and analysed as follows:


Participants were given a statement and then asked to position themselves on a scale of 1 to 5 according to how far they agreed. Points 1, 3 and 5 were marked with answers, so that it was clear if the midpoint represents a positive, neutral or negative stance.

Open Ended

Some questions were qualitative to allow for self-directed answers. These were then coded where relevant into common themes.

Multiple Choice 

Participants were encouraged to pick one answer from a list we had provided.

Multiple Response

Participants were encouraged to pick up to three answers, or as many as applied, from a list we had provided.

For our Qualitative Data collection (September Diaries / Drop your thoughts):

Insights have then been used to add nuance to quantitative data, and provoke further analysis. The eight prompts which participants responded to in the September Diaries loosely mapped on to the research framework established for the Survey by out NYT Advisory Group. Questions were intentionally left open in nature, and participants were encouraged to explore whatever angle of the questions they felt to be most interesting.

This data underwent narrative analysis – the findings from which was put towards our trend formulation. Verbatim quotes from the project were also used in the report.


Generally, our sample was fairly accurate in terms of its spread. It was slightly skewed in terms of age, with more younger participants than older – peaking at 18 and 19 year olds and reaching a low at 25.

Generally, our sample mapped onto the ONS breakdown for ethnicities, with our group having a higher proportion of certain ethnic groups – people from black backgrounds, for example. Regionally, we peaked in the regions with the highest populations with the exception of the West Midlands. Our largest deviation from census data was with gender, where our sample was weighted more towards females than males.

The survey was accessed by a number of people with additional access needs and those who defined themselves as disabled. You can read more about each individual demographic criteria on the graphs and tables below.

When asking participants to identify their sexuality we used an open text box in order to allow people to self-identify without the constraints of restricting labels. To avoid recategorising them now, and in order to display the number of people who sit at varying points along the spectrum of sexuality, we are presenting those who identify as heterosexual, and those who do not.

Of the full sample, 54.9% defined themselves as heterosexual or straight and 45.1% of people positioned themselves as nonheterosexual. For the People of Colour sample, this was 57.3% heterosexual or straight and 42.7% non-heterosexual.

The non-heterosexual participants gave answers which sat across the spectrum of sexualities: pansexual, omnisexual, questioning, queer, asexual, bisexual etc. You can read more about the fluid scale of sexuality and its associated language here.


Participants selected their ethnicity from a multiple choice list, outlined in the full sample below. This question was initially designed to allow people to multi-select their answers – to allow people to pick what best represents them. Due to a clerical error, participants were only able to tick one box, meaning that they may not have been able to identify exactly how they may have wanted to.

Any other African0.22%
Any other Asian1.55%
Any other Black background0.78%
Black British2.55%
British/Irish Traveler1.55%
Central Asian0.44%
East African0.55%
East Asian1.00%
North African0.11%
Other group4.27%
Other White group4.49%
Pacific Islander0.06%
South Asian5.21%
Southern African0.61%
West African1.33%
White British65.17%
White European7.38%


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