Social research agency

Acumen is a social research agency that excels at finding hard-to-reach participants for all kinds of public policy and societal research. Our social research team combines years of experience with dedication and fresh thinking to ensure we meet and even exceed your brief.

If you’d like to talk to us about your social research and get a quote for your project, get in touch with us by calling 0161 234 9940 or email


Why choose Acumen for social policy research?

Social research frequently involves finding members of the public who are either exceptionally hard to identify and recruit, or extremely disengaged with research. In many cases they may even feel disenfranchised by the very institutions we are working for.

Our social research specialists have over 15 years’ collective experience in fieldwork. From the moment we receive an inquiry through to our regular updates at every stage of the project, we offer unparalleled expertise.

We have a proven track record of finding participants who match even the most niche requirements, using the outstanding fieldwork methods and resources at our disposal.

As an agency, Acumen is committed to rigorous quality standards. We are members of a number of organisations which ensure we always deliver work to the highest standards. Our exclusive Acumonitor system – only available to our clients – screens for fresh and authentic participants.


Social research agency in action

During the Coronavirus crisis, we were asked to look into how the pandemic was impacting certain communities differently. Specifically, we were asked to find out more about the provision of public services for people on the margins of society. 

Our client required more than 200 participants from backgrounds as diverse as members of Traveller communities, the LGB community, transgender men and women, people with life-limiting conditions, and victims of sex trafficking.

The aim of the research was to gain a deeper understanding of the barriers faced by people who identified as belonging to marginalised communities when accessing public services.

Read the case study: Marginalised Voices.


Social research: finding the right people

Finding research participants like the ones outlined above can call for the team to work almost like detectives. And once we’ve identified suitable people, persuading them to take part calls for an entirely different set of communication and people skills.

We have a huge database of opt-in market research participants and a strong social media presence. But even this wasn’t enough to identify the 200-plus marginalised voices our client needed. 

So Acumen’s social research team went further, developing a new set of contacts, researching extensively and making changes to our screening style.


Recruiting 200 hard-to-reach voices

For the Marginalised Voices project, we sought out community members and grass-roots campaigners to help with recruitment among wary asylum-seekers and trafficking victims. To ensure transgender participants and victims of sexual harassment were included in the study, we screened respectfully, using indirect and conversational style questions.

We sourced elderly and homeless groups mostly through family members, providing IT assistance when needed to ensure they were able to take part. 

To persuade participants to take part, we used a combination of online outreach, long telephone discussions and sharing information on the goals of this important initiative. Building rapport and trust is an essential part of the recruitment in social research projects.


Marginalised voices research: the results

Through our perseverance, flexible and varied approach – combined with inspired thinking – we were able to provide views and experiences of people who are often stigmatised, marginalised or otherwise underrepresented in market research.

As a result of our fieldwork, our client held online focus groups and gathered feedback from hundreds of people from diverse communities about their experiences during the pandemic.

In addition, we were keenly aware of our safeguarding responsibilities during this project. So we created a policy on how to respond to disclosures of harm or trauma from some of the most vulnerable participants in the study. This is just one example of how our social research team goes beyond the brief to deliver valuable and thoughtful outcomes.

Acumen was nominated for an industry award for our work on this social research project. You can read more about our Marginalised Voices research project and more of our case studies here.


Work with our social research agency

If you’d like to work with us on your social research project, or find out more about the work we do, please get in touch with our Social Research Team:

Call 0161 234 9940 or email
Or use our online CONTACT FORM.

In addition to recruitment for social and public policy research, we offer a full range of quantitative and qualitative market research services. These include questionnaires, focus groups (both online and face to face), workshops, interviews and user testing.

Our clients include nationally recognised brands and research agencies, and we aim to create long-lasting partnerships, growing with you on every project while delivering the results you need.