AnM.19: Snowball Surveys and Co-nomination

Snowball Surveys and Co-nomination

"Snowball surveys" and "co-nomination" are formal and transparent reputation-based processes used in pre-foresight stage for identifying and recruiting prospective panel members from personal contacts or personal contacts from personal contacts. The two main objectives of the co-nomination are to i) build a database of people with relevant credentials who can be consulted by the panels or become respondents in any survey or other procedure during the stages of a programme and ii) to identify key people to become panel members in the various matters to be covered by the programme (Loveridge, 2009).

Co-nomination uses a structured questionnaire in repeated surveys, process known as "snowball' sampling". Its underlying principle lies in the generation of a network based on recurring pairs of names revealed from the questionnaire. It is assumed that similarities in the nominated persons work and that of the co-nominees implies a cognitive link (Nedeva et al., 1996; Loveridge, 2009). Both survey-based techniques enable considerable information about the potential participant's areas of expertise to be established. Initial respondents are asked by questionnaires to nominate other suitable participants in specified areas of expertise and describe their areas of competence. The process is repeated with those already nominated. The patterns of expertise thus revealed are used to construct a map of the inter-relationship between the fields covered by the panels.

The techniques are mainly based on asking each respondent in a selected group to identify further individuals who met the criteria in question. That group in turn would be asked to identify further individuals. While snowball survey involves contacting the people nominated by first contacts, then contacting their nominations, and so on, co-nomination approaches may be employed, in which the repeated naming of particular people as expert in particular fields is used for guidance in the selection of experts.

Data sources:

  • Identifying the expert networks for selecting the initial group of respondents via existing expert databases, peer-reviewed journals’ members, personal recommendation or internet 
  • Organising successive rounds for identifying further individuals
  • Classifying the clusters of experts



  • Nedeva, M., Georghiou, L., Loveridge, D. and Cameron, H. (1996), The use of co-nomination to identify expert participants for Technology Foresight, R&D Management, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 155-168.
  • Loveridge, D. (2009), Foresight. The Art of and Science of Anticipating the Future, Routledge.