Refugee integration - role of local authorities: research

Research commissioned by the Scottish Government to explore and assess the role of Scotland’s 32 local authorities in supporting the integration of refugees and people seeking asylum.

Appendix F

Refugee integration in Scotland: IPPR ethics statement

Summary of project aims

The Scottish Government and COSLA have commissioned IPPR to undertake a research project evaluating the role of local authorities in delivering refugee integration in Scotland.

Through fieldwork with stakeholders across Scotland we hope to:

  • Gain an understanding of the current picture on the ground of how local authorities facilitate refugee integration
  • Uncover where local authorities have found successes and faced challenges
  • Examine how different experiences compare across Scotland’s 32 local authorities
  • Determine the impact of policy and legislation (both devolved and reserved) on local authorities’ refugee integration strategies
  • Explore how local authorities might change and adapt their approach in the future.

A final report will be authored by IPPR and published by Scottish Government and the research should influence the next iteration of the New Scots refugee integration strategy.


The project will combine a mixed methods approach with two main fieldwork components, outlined below.

Survey of the 32 local authorities in Scotland

The survey will be shared electronically with stakeholders working in and across Scotland’s 32 local authorities, inclusive of council officers, councillors, and representatives from local partner organisations carrying out refugee integration work. We aim to reach between 100 and 150 respondents through the survey.

The survey will ask questions that focus on the following five topics:

  • understanding the current picture
  • identifying success and challenges
  • comparing experiences across Scotland
  • exploring the impact of policy and legislation
  • looking ahead.

We anticipate that the risk to respondents completing the survey is low. Respondents will be stakeholders engaged in the delivery of refugee integration work, and questions will relate to their professional experiences and perception of refugee integration in Scotland – opportunities for harm are therefore minimal. The ethics statement therefore focuses more so on ethical considerations with respect to the qualitative case study research.

Qualitative research based in three case study local areas

In-depth research will be undertaken in three case study areas to understand the above topic areas in more detail. Focus group and interviews will be conducted online with individuals involved in the delivery of refugee integration work, as well as with refugees and people seeking asylum.

In order to gather the views of senior stakeholders, frontline practitioners, and asylum seekers and refugees, we will deliver a series of online focus groups and one-to-one interviews with participating individuals (conducted via Teams). In each case study area, we will hold:

  • One-to-one interviews with around six stakeholders with senior responsibility for the delivery of humanitarian protection and refugee integration work
  • One focus group with around six individuals delivering humanitarian protection and refugee integration work on the ground from across a range of sectors and professions
  • One-to-one interviews with around four refugees and asylum seekers who have lived experience of receiving humanitarian protection and integration support.

In total, we intend to speak with approximately 36 stakeholders working to deliver refugee integration work and with 12 people with lived experience of receiving refugee integration support.

Recruitment of participants

Stakeholder participants will be recruited through IPPR and COSLA networks, while we will identify partner organisations who can support us to recruit refugee and asylum-seeking participants.

In particular, we will discuss details of the research activities with stakeholders and organisations supporting us to recruit refugees and asylum seekers, ensuring that they are aware of the steps we are taking to manage ethical considerations and how we will uphold the rights and dignity of research participants. If requested partner organisations may also have access to the ethics statement.

Participants and partner organisations will be given a copy of the participant information sheet detailing what participation in the research involves. This will also outline our privacy notice and include a consent form, to ensure that participants give their consent freely. As necessary, the information sheet and privacy notice can be translated or orally explained by a researcher or interpreter.

We will take all possible steps to acquire written consent, but where this is impracticable, we will accept verbal consent and record the date that consent was received.

Partner organisations supporting us with recruitment will be asked to identify participants that they think would be appropriate people to take part in the research. This may relate to the length of time they have resided in Scotland and/or the acuteness of any challenges individuals are currently experiencing.

We are able to offer a small honorarium payment to VCS organisations supporting us to recruit participants, in the region of £100-£200 per organisation.

We will make clear than any involvement in our research is on no way related to any government (inclusive of the Home Office) or charitable service, nor will access to services be contingent on participation in the research. No penalty will be experienced for those who do not wish to participate in the research.


Refugees and asylum seekers participating in the study will receive a supermarket gift voucher to the value of £40 in acknowledgement of their contribution to the study. This will be administered by IPPRs finance department, and will be received by participants within 10 working days.

Consent, feedback and withdrawal

Participants will be fully informed about the purpose, methods and intended possible uses of the research project. They will be informed about what their participation in the research entails and what potential risks may be involved, so that they can make an informed decision about participation.

This information will be conveyed through a participant information sheet, privacy notice and consent form. Consent will be sought via a Google Form for ease of recording, as we are conducting all fieldwork remotely. Where this is not possible, we will accept verbal consent.

All participants will be informed about how their data will be used and that anonymity will be assured. We will inform participants about the circumstances under which we may have to breach confidentiality – namely, if we suspect that they or someone else is at risk of harm. Participants will be informed that the interview or focus group will be audio-recorded and their explicit consent for this will be sought.

For our interviews, at the beginning of the session researchers will read out the key information from the information sheet and consent form and confirm verbally that participants consent to taking part.

Participants will be informed about how they can find out about the results of the research (for instance, by visiting the Scottish Government website). Participants can request further information on the purpose and potential uses of the research project, and where appropriate this can be discussed with the participant.

All participants taking part in 1-1 interviews will be informed of their right to withdraw, advised that there is no penalty for withdrawal and that any data collected in that interview will not be used in reports. Participants taking part in focus groups will also have the right to withdraw their consent, and as far as possible we will endeavour to remove their contributions from focus group transcripts.


Following best practice guidance from the UK data service, participants will be assured that their data will be anonymous in reports and their data treated confidentially throughout the transcription, analysis and write up of the research. Survey data will be pseudonymised: participants will be assigned unique identifiers and a log of these assignments will be kept and stored separately.

For our qualitative research write-up, ensuring a person’s identity is confidential will mean anonymising direct identifiers. Where they may identify a person, indirect identifiers (i.e. workplace, occupation, salary or age) may also be anonymised or generalised to avoid disclosure.

Data protection

IPPR will comply with legislative requirements on data protection, as set out in the Research Ethics Policy and IPPR Statement on Cloud Security Principles.

Following best practice guidance from the UK data service, participants will be assured that their data will be anonymous in reports and their data treated confidentially throughout the transcription, analysis and write up of the research. Ensuring a person’s identity is confidential will mean anonymising direct identifiers. Where they may identify a person, indirect identifiers (i.e. workplace, occupation, salary or age) may also be anonymised or generalised. All personal data will be deleted from IPPR systems at the end of the project once anonymised data has been transferred to SG/COSLA.

All personal data for this project will be held in Microsoft 365 SharePoint Online and Exchange Online, each of which is encrypted. Where any personal data is transmitted between organisations for this project, it will be password-protected and sent via an end-to-end encrypted digital platform.

Risk management

  • Unable to recruit refugee and asylum seeker participants (medium risk)

We plan to work in collaboration with local authorities and community organisations to recruit refugees and asylum seekers for this project. By approaching individuals through trusted professionals, we anticipate that we will be able to recruit the required number of participants.

The budget is inclusive of incentives for participating individuals from refugee and asylum-seeking communities. In addition, we are able to offer a small honorarium payment to VCS organisations supporting us to recruit participants. This is to recognise the time and effort of organisations supporting us to meet our research objectives.

  • Discussion of a sensitive topic in an interview causes distress to participant (medium-high risk)

For our interviews, participants will be given an information sheet about the topics to be discussed before the discussion, giving them time to think about issues at hand and to emotionally and intellectually prepare for the discussion.

Participants will be free to withdraw at any stage; we will signpost participants at start to external support as necessary.

If during an interview the participant becomes upset or alerts the researcher to their being distressed, steps will be taken to appropriately manage this – for instance, through taking a short break or through reordering or skipping questions.

Where appropriate, at the end of the interview, participants will be signposted to relevant support services and/or a follow-up call will be arranged with the local organisation.

  • Participants’ distrust of unknown research team inhibits recruitment & willingness to participate/disclose views during research (medium risk)

For the interviews, participants will be advised of the experience of researchers, and we will seek to establish rapport with participants.

Participants will be made aware of the complaints policy and procedure.

Participants will be compensated for taking part in the research and advised that they may withdraw at any time without penalty.

  • Researchers are concerned about potential or actual abuse, harm or neglect toward a child or vulnerable adult (medium risk)

Protocol on disclosure of safeguarding concerns will be agreed in team and with reference to IPPR’s research ethics policy and safeguarding policy.

As appropriate the researcher will reiterate ground rules related to confidentiality and the role of the researcher in responding to any safeguarding concerns.

This version ISBN 00123456789XX is current as at 28-07-2023

How to access background or source data

The data collected for this <statistical bulletin / social research publication>:

are available in more detail through Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics

are available via an alternative route

may be made available on request, subject to consideration of legal and ethical factors. Please contact for further information.

cannot be made available by Scottish Government for further analysis as Scottish Government is not the data controller.



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