Standards: Keeping Up With The Times
Stephen Blumberg, Standards Chair
The theme of the AAPOR 64th Annual Conference highlighted the changing times we live in, from technologies to sociopolitical climates to survey response propensities.The Standards Committee is working hard to ensure that our core professional, scientific and ethical values remain strong and keep up with these changes.
Foremost in this effort has been creation of a committee to review the current AAPOR Code of Professional Ethics and Practices and make recommendations regarding additions and revisions to update and strengthen the Code. At the suggestion of the committee’s chair, Mary Losch, the committee members organized themselves into two subcommittees. One group, led by Jennifer Franz, is working primarily on issues related to new technologies and methods and clarification of technical points in the current language. The second group, led by Gary Langer, is working on a review of current standards codes from other social science associations to assess how the AAPOR Code may be strengthened. Recommended changes will be vetted by the Standards Committee, approved by AAPOR Council, and put to the membership for a vote in the Spring.
Through the Standards Committee, AAPOR has also established several task forces to review the state of the science for new methodologies. The AAPOR Cell Phone Task Force has been reconstituted to update its April 2008 report. In the past 18 months since the original report was finalized, a great deal of new information has been generated about how cell phone surveys in the U.S. are, and should be, implemented. This includes knowledge and new ideas about coverage and sampling designs, nonresponse, measurement and data quality issues, weighting adjustments and costs. Paul Lavrakas has graciously agreed to chair this task force again.
The Online Panel Task Force also continues the work it began last year and presented at the conference earlier this year. This task force, led by Reg Baker, is charged with reviewing the current empirical findings related to online panels, providing key information and recommendations about whether and when opt-in online panels might be best utilized, and offering suggestions for how best to judge their quality. The task force anticipates completing its work by the end of this year.
Members of the Standards Committee also have been learning about the ISO 20252 standard for market, opinion and social research. This international standard specifies the processes in conducting research projects from proposal, through sampling, fieldwork and data analysis to the final report. The standard is very comprehensive and largely consistent with good research practice advocated by AAPOR. However, the process of accreditation is worrisome, with legitimate concerns about the costs of preparing for and engaging in an audit. Certification programs do not yet exist in the U.S., and the Standards Committee will continue to monitor progress in this area.
The work of these various committees would not be possible without the generous commitment of time from nearly 50 AAPOR members. Thank you all for your efforts!
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