Recapping AAPOR's 67th Annual Conference

By Dan Merkle, 2012 Conference Chair

AAPOR’s 67th Annual Conference, held May 17-20, in Orlando, attracted 1,026 attendees. This is the highest attendance for a year without a joint WAPOR conference and the second highest attendance for an AAPOR conference ever. The program featured more than 90 sessions and panels involving over 500 papers, methodological briefs, demonstrations and poster presentations.

A number of the sessions focused on the conference theme, “Evaluating New Frontiers in Public Opinion and Social Research.” These included sessions on using interactive and gaming techniques to improve surveys, advances in web surveys, innovations in the use of mobile devices in survey research, and using social media to measure public opinion and behavior.

The program also included numerous sessions on a diverse range of topics of interest to our profession including substantive studies of public opinion on social, economic and political issues, political polling and elections, cross-national and comparative research, the impact of the media, and methodological research on cell phones, address-based sampling, questionnaire design, nonresponse, sampling, weighting, and mixed-mode data collection.

The conference was kicked off with the plenary session, “Examining the Value of Non-Probability Sampling in Social Research.” Douglas Rivers and George Terhanian presented the case for the value of non-probability sampling, and Robert Groves and Elizabeth Stasny were the discussants. The session was moderated by Nancy Mathiowetz.

For those who missed this session, in the coming weeks the video of the plenary, as well as the speakers’ presentations will be posted on the AAPOR website for members and conference attendees to access. Other presentations from the rest of the sessions at the conference will be posted on the website and available to AAPOR members and conference attendees later in the summer.

The conference also featured six stellar short courses for those interested in more in-depth methodological training: “Single and Multi-Mode Surveys Using Address-Based Sampling” (Colm O’Muircheartaigh and Ned English), “Unlocking the Potential of Conjoint Analysis/Discrete Choice Modeling and MaxDiff Scaling in Public Opinion Research” (Joseph Curry), “Maximizing the Accuracy of Online Surveys: Comparisons of Methods and Recommendations of Optimal Procedures” (Jon Krosnick), “Improving Surveys with Paradata: Making Use of Process Information” (Frauke Kreuter), “Designing Web Questionnaires” (Mick Couper), “The Role of New Technologies in Powering, Augmenting, or Replacing Traditional Surveys” (Michael Link and Trent Buskirk).

The tradition of AAPOR as a “meeting place” was on display throughout the conference as attendees mingled and networked during the group meals, the New Member and All-Chapter Reception, the President’s Reception, the dessert receptions, and refreshment breaks. Attendees also gathered in the exhibit hall which included demonstration sessions, poster presentations, meet the author sessions, the book exhibit, and a diverse range of exhibitors and vendors.  On the last night of the conference, attendees enjoyed the post-banquet party featuring live acoustic music and complementary mojitos.

Other conference activities, organized by the Conference Support Committee led by Deborah Rexrode (Chair) and Mandy Sha (Associate Chair), included the docent program for first-time attendees, two speed networking sessions, the golf outing, the fun run/walk, and applied probability.

Mark your calendars for AAPOR's 68th Annual Conference on May 16-19, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts at the Seaport Boston Hotel and World Trade Center.