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American Association for Public Opinion Research

Webinar Details

Emerging Technologies in Public Opinion Research - The Current Landscape

Michael Link and Joe Murphy

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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About This Course:

The ways in which people both access and share information about attitudes, opinions, and behaviors have gone through perhaps a greater transformation in the last decade than in any previous point in history and this trend appears likely to continue. The rapid adoption of smartphones and ubiquity of social media are inter-connected trends which may provide researchers with new data collection tools and alternative sources of information to augment or, in some cases, provide alternatives to more traditional survey research methods. We discuss these issues drawing from two reports generated by the AAPOR Task Force on Emerging Technologies and Public Opinion with specific focus on two interconnected technologies: mobile devices and social media platforms. The webinar will examine four main areas: (1) conducting surveys using mobile devices like smartphones and tablets; (2) using mobile technologies to supplement survey research through the collection of auxiliary data such as location, visual data, and mobile apps; (3) examining social media platforms and the ways they are being used to collect data as part of the survey process, such as collecting survey data, respondent recruitment, panel maintenance, or cognitive interviewing; and (4) focusing on the passive analysis of data from social media sources to either supplement or take the place of survey data collection. The Task Force found that while smartphone and social technologies offer new opportunities and some unique challenges for collecting data on attitudes, opinions, and behaviors, many of the issues that arise are similar to those researchers have dealt with in the past in moving to new modes, such as coverage, sampling, and measurement error. We will discuss the technological landscape, research to date, and recommendations and areas for future study.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the key considerations in the uses of smartphones as a platform for conducting surveys.
  • Identify the potential uses of social media platforms and data in the survey process.
  • Recognize some of the limitations of emerging technologies for understanding public opinion and the areas of research needed to further the field in this area.

About the Instructors:

ImageMichael W. Link, Ph.D. is Chief Methodologist and Senior Vice President at Nielsen, directing the activities of the Measurement Science Institute. Dr. Link is also the current President of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, 2014-2015. He has a broad-base of experience in survey research, having worked in academia (University of South Carolina, 1989-1999), not-for-profit research (RTI International, 1999-2004), and government (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2004-2007) before joining Nielsen. Dr. Link’s research efforts focus on developing methodologies for confronting the most pressing issues facing measurement science, including improving participation and data quality, using of multiple modes in data collection, and utilizing new technologies such as mobile platforms and social media. Along with several colleagues, he received the American Association for Public Opinion Research 2011 Mitofsky Innovator’s Award for his research on address-based sampling. His numerous research articles have appeared in leading scientific journals, such as Public Opinion Quarterly, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, and Journal of Official Statistics.



ImageJoe Murphy, Survey Methodologist and Director of Program on Digital Technology, RTI International  has more than 15 years of experience researching the causes and solutions for issues related to survey quality and managing survey projects. His research focuses on the implementation of new data collection processes, new data sources, and analytic techniques to maximize data quality, increase response, and reduce costs. His recent work has been centered on data sources and techniques such as Internet search patterns, social media data analysis (e.g., Twitter), data visualization, crowdsourcing, and social research in virtual worlds.