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American Association for Public Opinion Research

Webinar Details

Leveraging New Technologies: What We Know So Far

Michael W. Link, PhD

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

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About this Course

Rapid advancements in communications and database technologies are changing the societal landscape across which public opinion and survey researchers operate. In particular, 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.

For instance, mobile app-based tools can provide “in-the-moment” data throughout the day, including location and “trigger-based” survey data, respondent location via GPS, and collection of visual data, while social networking systems such as Facebook and Twitter are potential platforms for primary data collection as well as access to rich sources of opinion data for secondary analysis. However, this brave new world is not without its share of issues and pitfalls – technological, statistical, and methodological.

This course examines some of the research findings to date with respect to the use of mobile and social media platforms as vehicles for collecting information on attitudes, opinions and behaviors. For each area, we will explore current applications, known best practices, and cautions, including smartphones (for surveys, GPS, and visual data collection) and social network platforms (surveys and other forms of information). Examples will be provided from several topic areas, including assessment of political attitudes, health-related studies, and consumer research. The final section of the course delineates some of the more fruitful areas for on-going research to improve our understanding of these technologies and the role they can play in assessing public opinion.

Learning Objectives:

  • Explain of some of the current uses of mobile technology and social media platforms for gathering information on people’s attitudes, opinions and behaviors;
  • Assess some of the most recent research on the application and limits of these new technologies;
  • Evaluate a roadmap for accelerating the development, testing and deployment of new technologies for data capture.

About the Instructor

Image Michael W. Link, PhD, is chief methodologist and senior vice president at The Nielsen Company, directing the activities of the Nielsen Measurement Institute. 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 (AAPOR) 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.