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portrait of Professor Rory Fitzgerald

Professor Rory Fitzgerald

Director of the European Social Survey

School of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Sociology

Contact Information


Visit Rory Fitzgerald

DG18, Rhind Building

Postal Address

City, University of London
Northampton Square
United Kingdom



Professor Rory Fitzgerald became Director of the European Social Survey (ESS) in 2013 having been a Senior Research Fellow at City, University of London since 2004. In November 2013, the UK and 14 other European governments established the European Social Survey as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ESS ERIC) – an independent international research organisation hosted at City, University of London. ESS ERIC now has 25 Members.

Rory is the first Director of ESS ERIC and oversees the ESS Core Scientific Team (CST) and the ESS National Coordinators Forum. In addition to these committees he works closely with the General Assembly as well as the Scientific and Methods advisory boards.

The ESS is a rigorous comparative biennial survey of changing attitudes and values in up to 34 European countries. With other members of the CST, he was awarded the Descartes Prize in 2005 for 'excellence in collaborative scientific research'. In 2016 the ESS was declared to be a landmark infrastructure by the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures in Europe (ESFRI). There are more than 140,000 registered users of the ESS data and almost 4,000 publications using the data available online.

Rory is an Associate Editor of the Survey Research Methods Journal.


Rory worked with other ESS colleagues on the successful transition of the survey into a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) in 2013. ESS ERIC has an annual budget for central costs of €2.4 MILLION.

In 2015 he was the Coordinator of two Horizon 2020 awards totalling over €10 million. This included a grant to promote the sustainability of the ESS and another - SERISS - which supported pan-social science infrastructure collaboration in Europe. In 2019 he was awarded a €5 million grant to further support the sustainability of the ESS including the launch of a 12-country probability based, input harmonised web panel.


  1. DPhil Sociology, City, University of London, United Kingdom, 2016
  2. MSc (Econ) European Politics, University of Wales, United Kingdom, 1996
  3. BSc (Econ) Politics, University of Wales, United Kingdom, 1995


  1. ESS Director (ESS ERIC from 2013), City, University of London, Oct 2012 – present
  2. CCSS Acting Director, City, University of London, Jan – Oct 2012
  3. CCSS Deputy Director, City, University of London, Oct 2007 – Jan 2012
  4. Senior Research Fellow, City, University of London, May 2004 – Oct 2007
  5. Researcher/Senior Researcher/Research Director, NatCen Social Research, London, Oct 1999 – May 2004
  6. Research Executive, The Gallup Organization, Nov 1996 – Oct 1999

Memberships of professional organisations

  1. Vice President, UCU City, University of London Branch, 2010 – 2013
  2. Member, ESRC Peer Review College, 2010 – present
  3. American Association for Public Opinion Research, 2010 – present
  4. Member, NORFACE Data Collection Expert Panel, 2009 – 2010
  5. Member, World Association of Public Opinion Research, 2009 – present
  6. Invited member, Comparative Survey Design Implementation Workshop, 2008
  7. Member, European Survey Research Association, 2008 – present


Professor Fitzgerald's key area of expertise cross-national survey methodology with a focus on questionnaire design and pre-testing as well as non-response issues. In addition, he has an increasing interest in the use of web surveys and web panels in cross national surveys. He also played a leading role in the ESS preparatory phase and the establishment of the ESS as an ERIC.

Rory Fitzgerald was included in the most recent REF and wrote an impact case study based on the ESS.

Rory also co-organises a Methods Seminar Series with NatCen social research which brings together academics and practitioners to discuss issues related to quality in survey research and quantitative social science more generally.

Prior to joining City, Mr Fitzgerald was a Research Director at the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), having previously worked at Gallup where specialised in political opinion polling.


Books (2)

  1. Stoop, I.A.L., Billiet, J., Koch, A. and Fitzgerald, R. (2010). Improving survey response: Lessons from the European Social Survey. John Wiley & Sons Inc. ISBN 978-0-470-51669-0.
  2. Jowell, R., Roberts, C., Fitzgerald, R. and Eva, G. (Eds.), (2007). Measuring attitudes cross-nationally: Lessons from the European Social Survey. SAGE. ISBN 978-1-4129-1981-4.

Chapters (10)

  1. Fitzgerald, R. and Zavala-Rojas, D. (2020). A Model for Cross-National Questionnaire Design and Pretesting. In Beatty, P.C., Collins, D., Kaye, L., Padilla, J.-.L., Willis, G.B. and Wilmot, A. (Eds.), Advances in Questionnaire Design, Development, Evaluation and Testing (pp. 493–514). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-119-26362-3.
  2. Villar, A. and Fitzgerald, R. (2017). Using mixed modes in survey research: Evidence from six experiments in the ESS. Values and Identities in Europe: Evidence from the European Social Survey (pp. 273–310). ISBN 978-1-138-22666-1.
  3. Winstone, L., Widdop, S. and Fitzgerald, R. (2016). Constructing the Questionnaire: the Challenges of Measuring Views and Evaluations of Democracy Across Europe. In Ferrin, M. and Kriesi, H. (Eds.), How Europeans View and Evaluate Democracy (pp. 21–42). UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-876690-2.
  4. Butt, S. and Fitzgerald, R. (2014). Critical consensus? Britain’s expectations and evaluations of democracy. In Park, A., Bryson, C. and Curtice, J. (Eds.), British Social Attitudes 2014 ed. 31st report (pp. 1–24). London: NatCen Social Research. ISBN 978-1-907236-33-4.
  5. Fitzgerald, R., Harrison, E. and Ryan, L. (2013). The ESS: a social science research infrastructure for Europe and beyond. In Kleiner, B., Renschler, I., Wernli, B., Farago, P. and Joye, D. (Eds.), Understanding Research Infrastructures in the Social Sciences Seismo Verlag. ISBN 978-3-03777-133-4.
  6. Fitzgerald, R., Harrison, E. and Steinmaier, F. (2011). Age identity and conflict: Myths and realities. In Park, A., Clery, E., Curtice, J., Phillips, M. and Utting, D. (Eds.), British Social Attitudes SAGE. ISBN 978-1-84920-666-2.
  7. Fitzgerald, R. and Jowell, R. (2010). Measurement Equivalence in Comparative Surveys: The European Social Survey – From design to implementation and beyond. In Harkness, J.A., Vijver, F.J.R.V.D. and Mohler, P.P. (Eds.), Cross-cultural survey methods Wiley-Interscience. ISBN 978-0-471-38526-4.
  8. Harrison, E. and Fitzgerald, R. (2010). ‘A chorus of disapproval? European attitudes to non-traditional family patterns. In Park, A., Curtice, J., Thomson, K., Phillips, M., Clery, E. and Butt, S. (Eds.), British Social Attitudes SAGE. ISBN 978-1-84920-387-6.
  9. Jowell, R., Kaase, M., Fitzgerald, R. and Eva, G. (2007). The European Social Survey as a measurement model. In Jowell, R. and Britain, C.F.C.S.S.G. (Eds.), Measuring attitudes cross-nationally Sage Publications Ltd. ISBN 978-1-4129-1981-4.
  10. Harrison, E., Jowell, R. and Fitzgerald, R. (2007). Non-respondents in the European Social Survey: in a class of their own? In Loosveldt, G., Swyngedouw, M. and Cambré, B. (Eds.), Measuring meaningful data in social research Leuven: Acco NR. ISBN 978-90-334-6829-2.

Datasets (6)

  1. Fitzgerald, R. and Harrison, E. (2018). European Social Survey Cumulttive dataset Rounds 1-8.

    [publisher’s website]

  2. Fitzgerald, R., Butt, S., Harrison, E., Ryan, L., Douhou, S., Salini, L. … Lynn, P. (2018). ESS Round 9: European Social Survey Round 9 Data.

    [publisher’s website]

  3. Fitzgerald, R. (2016). ESS Round 7: European Social Survey Round 7 Data (2014). Data file edition 2.1. NSD - Norwegian Centre for Research Data, Norway – Data Archive and distributor of ESS data for ESS ERIC.

    [publisher’s website]

  4. Butt, S. and fitzgerald, R. (2016). ADDResponse: European Social Survey Round 6 (UK) Plus Auxiliary Data, 2010-2014: Secure Access.

    [publisher’s website]

  5. Fitzgerald, R. and ESS Core Scientific Team, (2015). ESS Round 7: European Social Survey Round 7 Data (2014). Data file edition 1.0. Norwegian Social Science Data Services, Norway – Data Archive and distributor of ESS data for ESS ERIC.

    [publisher’s website]

  6. Paskin, N. (1999). Toward unique identifiers.

Internet publications (2)

  1. Fisher, S., Fitzgerald, R. and Poortinga, W. (2018). Climate change Social divisions in belief and behaviour. The National Centre for Social Research.
  2. Fitzgerald, R., Winstone, L. and Prestage, Y. (2014). A Versatile tool? Applying the Cross-national Error Source Typology (CNEST) to triangulated pre-test data. FORS.

Journal articles (7)

  1. Eikemo, T.A., Bambra, C., Huijts, T. and Fitzgerald, R. (2017). The first pan-european sociological health inequalities survey of the general population: The european social survey rotating module on the social determinants of health. European Sociological Review, 33(1), pp. 137–153. doi:10.1093/esr/jcw019.
  2. Prestage, Y., Fitzgerald, R. and Winstone, L. (2014). Searching For Evidence of Acculturation: Attitudes Toward Homosexuality Among Migrants Moving From Eastern to Western Europe. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 26(3), pp. 323–341. doi:10.1093/ijpor/edu021.
  3. Fitzgerald, R., Widdop, S., Gray, M. and Collins, D. (2011). Identifying Sources of Error in Cross-national Questionnaires: Application of an Error Source Typology to Cognitive Interview Data. JOURNAL OF OFFICIAL STATISTICS, 27(4), pp. 569–599.
  4. Miller, K., Fitzgerald, R., Padilla, J.L., Willson, S., Widdop, S., Caspar, R. … Schoua-Glusberg, A. (2011). Design and analysis of cognitive interviews for comparative multinational testing. Field Methods, 23(4), pp. 379–396. doi:10.1177/1525822X11414802.
  5. Jackson, J., Bradford, B., Hough, M., Kuha, J., Stares, S., Widdop, S. … Galev, T. (2011). Developing European indicators of trust in justice. European Journal of Criminology, 8(4), pp. 267–285. doi:10.1177/1477370811411458.
  6. Miller, K., Fitzgerald, R., Padilla, J., Wilson, S., Widdop, S., Caspar, R. … Schoua-Glusberg, A. (2011). Design and Analysis of Cognitive Interviews for Comparative Cross-National Testing. Field Methods.
  7. Billiet, J., Philippens, M., Fitzgerald, R. and Stoop, I. (2007). Estimation of Response bias in The European Social Survey: using information from reluctant respondents in Round One. Journal of Official Statistics, 23(2), pp. 135–162.


  1. Lahtinen, K., Slingsby, A., Dykes, J.A., Butt, S. and Fitzgerald, R. Informing Non-Response Bias Model Creation in Social Surveys with
    , 2015.


  1. Fitzgerald, R. Striving for quality, comparability and transparency in cross-national social survey measurement: illustrations from the European Social Survey (ESS). (PhD Thesis)

Other Activities

Editorial activity (2)

  1. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Editorial Board, 2013 – present.
  2. Survey Research Methods, Associate Editor, 2013 – present.

Keynote lectures/speeches (10)

  1. A decade of attitudinal measurement: What the European Social Survey tells us about the people of Europe. Dublin (2013). Keynote Talk, International Conference on the ESS, June 10-11
  2. Acculturation and attitudes towards homosexuality: Moving from East to West Europe. Boston (2013). World Association of Public Opinion Conference, 14-16 May.
  3. A Versatile Tool? The Cross National Error Source Typology (CNEST): An Application to Triangulated Pre-test Data. Boston (2013). American Association of Public Opinion Research Conference
  4. From East to West: the impact of intra-European emigration on
    social attitudes.
    Cyprus (2012). ESS International Conference
  5. Translation Verification in the European Social Survey – a comparison of rounds 5 and round 6 and implications for the future. Cyprus (2012). ESS International Conference
  6. Mode Effects in Complex Questions. Cyprus (2012). ESS International Conference
  7. Challenges in comparative questionnaire design: Illustrations from the European Social Survey. Lausanne, Switzerland (2011). 5th ESRA Conference
  8. Inputs and Outputs in Comparative Studies. Gothenburg, Sweden (2010). Invited paper, World Congress of Sociology
  9. Responding to cross-national diversity and change over time. An analysis of possible revisions to the ESS Partnership and Life Course Questions. Lausanne, Switzerland (2010). Invited Paper, 7th CSDI workshop
  10. Facilitating triangulation of pretesting techniques through improved documentation of (cross-national) questionnaire development. Warsaw, Poland (2009). 3rd ESRA Conference