This page includes guidance and best practice for clients and agencies.

Representation in Research FAQs

The MRS Representation in Research group has been talking to research practitioners across the UK about the issue of participant representation in UK research projects. More specifically, how we can improve representation of groups that are often underrepresented. Over the course of this process, we have developed the following FAQs.

>> Read the Representation in Research FAQs 

Sampling guidelines for clients


This document aims to provide the approach clients should take in regards to more inclusive sampling & data collection. The sample should be as representative of quotas above as possible, unless research is targeted for a reason (e.g. specific focus on one gender)

The sample size should not be an excuse for not having a representative sample

  • What is it you are trying to research?

- Think about all potential groups within the quota
- Considering intersectionality may help here

  • It is important to remember that people are not homogenous – don’t assume that one person represents an entire group


  • What is currently done?

- Is this a piece of continuous research, or a new project?
- What is the impact of making changes (reporting/analysis) if continuous?

  • Do you need the data to be nationally representative (nat rep)?
  • What source are you using to base your population on (ONS/Census etc.) – is it the most up-to-date source?
  • Do you need to reflect/represent your existing base?
  • What type of research is it?

- Qualitative vs. quantitative – sample size may impact ability to quota

The latest guidelines recommend an extended version of Nat Rep, including; age, gender identity, region, social grade, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical disability and/or mental health conditions

>> Download the Sampling Methods guide.

Methods guidelines for clients


This document outlines the pros/cons of virtual vs. F2F, aiming to cover how our methods can consider more inclusive sampling and remain accessible.

Representation is about more than just quotas, it’s also about ensuring participants have the opportunity to respond – all stages of the project (from design to participant facing documents) need to consider this.

When designing your research project, consider the pros/cons of different methods in relation to the sample you are trying to reach – might certain methodologies create unintended blockers (e.g. in person focus groups with no disabled access to the room). Consider the individuals within your target sample and make allowances as necessary.

>> Download the Use of Different Methods guide.

Language guidelines for clients


This document examines what not to say/terms to avoid.

It’s important to ensure that all people are referred to, and given the option to declare themselves as, using language and terminology that they are comfortable with. The ‘correct’ terminology is personal, so it is always a good idea to find out how people prefer to describe themselves and use those terms, rather than making assumptions.

Language preferences and our understanding of the impact of certain words changes – ensure you are using the most up-to-date recommendations.

>> Download the Use of Language guidelines.


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