Page 1: Welcome to the Rural England: Local Perspectives on Community and Economy Survey

Information for Potential Participants from Thrapston, Minehead, Bridgnorth, Alnwick, Shildon & Keswick

Rural England: Local Perspectives on Community and Economy


The Centre for Rural Economy at Newcastle University in conjunction with the Countryside & Community Research Institute at the University of Gloucestershire are conducting research on behalf of DEFRA, the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs.

In order to help you to decide whether you do want to participate in this research we will now give you a short overview of the project, its aims and objectives. We will also give you some information about what happens after you complete the survey and your right to change your mind about participating in the survey in the future.


What is the purpose of the study?

The overall project is seeking to gain a detailed understanding of the day-to-day experiences of people living and working in rural communities (including the experiences of people running businesses in rural areas) and to then use that understanding to guide government policy such that it better supports communities and businesses located in rural areas.

In this particular component of the research we are seeking to obtain information from business owners and managers concerning their experiences of running a business, their relationships with the wider community and other local businesses. However, we appreciate that the current Covid-19 crisis may have had a significant effect on your business and across the wider community in which you are located - we also want to know about these impacts. 

For the purposes of this survey we are considering pre-COVID-19 to be any time prior to 26thMarch 2020 when the UK wide lockdown was initiated, and strict social distancing measures were introduced.


Why have I been invited to take part?

We are conducting research in eight case study areas across England.  You have been invited to take part in this survey as your business is located in one of those case study areas.


Do I have to take part?

No.  Participation is voluntary.  You do not have to take part and choosing not to take part will not disadvantage you in any way.  It is up to you whether you wish to take part. 


What will happen to the results of the study?

Your responses will be added directly into Jisc online surveys by one of our research team or yourself depending on whether you opt for a researcher- or self-administered survey. All data will be kept securely and identifying data will be removed. The data will be analysed using some basic descriptive statistical techniques. This will enable researchers to identify the range of perspectives and experiences of different participants. Your name will not be attached to your survey data. The anonymised data will be kept for up to 2 years for research purposes.


We will use the results of this survey to write a report for DEFRA. We also plan to share the research findings with other academics by publishing articles discussing the findings and by presenting papers at academic conferences in the UK and overseas. 


Will my taking part be kept confidential?

The information you provide in this survey is regarded as strictly confidential. The only limits or exceptions to confidentiality would be where you say something in the interview which suggests that information needs to be disclosed to a third party in order to protect you or somebody else. Where a breach of confidentiality is considered necessary to protect the interviewee or another person, this breach will be referred to the University of Newcastle’s Ethics Committee.  If it is then agreed that disclosure is necessary in the circumstances, we will then contact the relevant authority.

All information which is obtained from you will be completely anonymised (no names or personal details will be attached to the data). When reporting on the research findings, we will not reveal your name, your businesses name, nor will any information be provided which might lead to you being identified.

If you are particularly concerned about the removal of identifiable characteristics in your survey data, please let us know. We can arrange for you to have a copy of your survey data to approve and remove any details you think make you identifiable.

The Data Protection Act and General Data Protection Regulation will apply to the information collected as part of the survey. In order to comply with that act all information gathered within the surveys will be held on password-locked computer files. No raw data will be accessible by anyone other than the research team. 


What happens if I change my mind and want to withdraw from the research?

Even if you initially decide to take part, you are still free to withdraw from the research without giving any reason. You can withdraw up to 30 days after completing your survey by contacting Paul Cowie on any of the details below - these details are provided again upon completion.       


What are the possible benefits and risks of taking part?

Whilst we cannot promise that this study will provide you with a direct benefit, we hope that by publishing our findings these will contribute to DEFRA’s policy and programmes that aim to support rural communities like yours.

The main disadvantage to take part in the study is that you will be donating your time to take part. We do not envisage any risk to you in participating in this research. At no time will you be obliged to discuss anything you are uncomfortable discussing nor to disclose anything that you don’t wish to. As such, any information you give us is completely under your control.


How is the project being funded?

As outlined previously, this project is being funded by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)


Has the research received ethical approval?

The study has been approved in accordance with the research ethics procedures of both the Universities of Newcastle and Gloucestershire, and DEFRA.


Who should I contact for further information?

If you have any questions or would like further information about this research, please contact:

Dr Paul Cowie

Centre for Rural Economy

Newcastle University

Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU